Sunday 19 November 2017

Duty to avoid star duo at Punchestown

Gordon Elliott: “One more piece of work will be decisive.” Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Gordon Elliott: “One more piece of work will be decisive.” Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Death Duty, aims to avoid Penhill and Presenting Percy in what could be one of the races of the Punchestown Festival.

Penhill's success in the Albert Bartlett was made easier due to the moderate effort of favourite Death Duty, which was well-held when exiting at the last. However, connections are confident he will put that run behind him.

"I think we'll aim him at the (Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle), which will be easier. Forget Cheltenham and it wasn't the ground. He is working well," said Elliott. "One more piece of work will be decisive."

Elliott leads Willie Mullins by over €400,000 going into the festival which commences next Tuesday. Star mare Apple's Jade could go for either the Mares Champion Hurdle of the World Series Hurdle, with Elliott saying that she worked well yesterday and he is edging towards the former, though Gigginstown's Eddie O'Leary has stressed that the staying race is a viable alternative.

In that event, Nichols Canyon is set to take his chance for Willie Mullins. "Yanworth is finished for the season but the plan is that Unowhatimeanharry will run in that race," said owner JP McManus's racing manager, Frank Berry. Aintree runner-up to Yanworth, Supasundae, will not run.

Drying

McManus's My Tent Or Yours is set to tackle Petit Mouchoir and potentially Annie Power - which remains in good form - in the Betdaq Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

Elliott's Mega Fortune is to go for the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, "He worked well this morning but the ground drying out wouldn't be ideal," said Elliott, who added that the enigmatic Labaik would run in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle. "He's very quirky but if he jumps off one in three runs, he has that much of an engine, it is nearly good enough! He was at Fairyhouse this morning and I'm very happy with him."

The feature race of festival will see Sizing John, Gold Cup hero, take on the 2015 Gold Cup winner in Coneygree. However, both Road To Riches and Carlingford Lough - finished for the season - will be kept at home.

O'Leary also had news that Samcro, which was originally being aimed at the Attheraces.com Champion INH Flat Race, is likely done for the year. Gigginstown will tackle that race with the promising Poli Roi. Samcro was hugely impressive at Fairyhouse and O'Leary added: "He won the same race as Don Poli and Death Duty. He was good."

Elliott said of the title race: "It'll be a relief when it's all over, whoever wins, and Jamie Codd's battle with Patrick Mullins to win the champion amateur title adds another dimension to it all."

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