Saturday 17 November 2018

'Heart' leads Elliott's raiding party on Cheltenham

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Gordon Elliott has been lapping up a host of jumping prizes abroad in recent months and he leads the Irish charge today as the white flag is raised on Cheltenham's season.

Champion trainer Willie Mullins isn't represented but Elliott has a strong hand with four-time hurdle winner Make My Heart Fly tackling the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (2.0)

Second in a Listed Hurdle at Gowran Park earlier this month, the seven-year-old mare has conditions in her favour and will be a tough nut to crack in the hands of English champion jockey Richard Johnson.

Dermot McLoughlin's Canardier and John McConnell's Go Another One also make the trip while Elliott saddles two in the Handicap Hurdle (3.10) with Sedgefield winner High Expectations and Limerick scorer Water Sprite taking their chance.

His Meath counterpart McConnell also sends Roi De Dubai and Elliott's Presenting Julio is a leading fancy in the Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (4.55), while Oighear Dubh travels for Cork trainer Eugene O'Sullivan.

Elliott's team is completed by Silver Star in the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (5.30) but he isn't the only one on the hunt for winners outside of Ireland with Aidan O'Brien making a four-pronged attack on the Group One Manikato Stakes (11.30) in Australia this morning.

US Navy Flag (11/2) is on a retrieval mission at Moonee Valley after disappointing in the 'Everest' two weeks ago while Spirit Of Valor (10/1), Fleet Review (25/1) and Intelligence Cross (80/1) also take their chance.

Closer to home, the Ballydoyle maestro bids for a first Listed Cooley Fillies & Mares Stakes (8.0) win, but has a leading fancy in tonight's Dundalk feature with Could It Be Love.

Second in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, the War Front filly is 5lbs clear on ratings but hasn't got her head in front in eight runs and his son Joseph's Dramatise may be worth a chance if progressing from last month's Fairyhouse maiden victory.

Damian English's Dance Alone is an interesting contender in the Dev-Oil & Skips R Us Handicap (9.0) off an attractive mark and Stephen Mooney's mount may leave his recent off-colour performances behind him.

Meanwhile, Joseph O'Brien's Irish Derby winner Latrobe will skip the Melbourne Cup and instead contest the shorter Group One Mackinnon Stakes over 1m2f at Flemington.

Elsewhere, Aidan O'Brien's Breeders' Cup team is taking shape for November 2 and 3 with Magical tackling the Breeders' Cup Turf alongside stablemate Hunting Horn.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes second I Can Fly looks set for the Mile along with Happily while So Perfect's target is either the Juvenile Fillies' Turf or the Juvenile Turf Sprint with Derby candidate Anthony Van Dyck already confirmed for the latter.

O'Brien hasn't hidden his intentions to break new ground and win the Classic for the first time with UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn prepared specifically for that demanding task.

Irish Independent

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