Sport Horse Racing

Monday 18 December 2017

Title-chasing Elliott targets Kilbeggan with huge team

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Kilbeggan's return invites the impending summer and tonight's offering at the Midlands venue is competitive.

This tight, undulating track is far from ideal for many and it will be interesting to see how Fridaynightlights fares as he bids to follow up his Fairyhouse win under a penalty in the two-mile handicap hurdle.

He is one of 13 runners for the Gordon Elliott stable, quite possibly a record number of Kilbeggan runners from one yard. He switched from Tom Cooper's recently and landed a little gamble on Sunday, strong at the wire over two miles. He probably wants farther ideally but this is a weaker race, 7lb claiming amateur Anthony Fox booked to negate his penalty.

Elliott also has a strong contender in Dawerann in the Sean Hughes Memorial Handicap Chase. Incapable it seems of running poorly since joining Elliott, he was touched off at Tramore last time and will be well-suited by the trip this evening and Jack Kennedy.

The hot favourite to win the Irish trainers' title should also share the second maiden with the somewhat frustrating Icario, while Lisa O'Neill can continue her stunning campaign on stablemate Coeur De Beauchene in the nightcap.

At Dundalk, the three-year-olds' mile race is laden with quality despite the small field. Andrew Slattery rates Branch Line as potentially the best he has trained; Glastonbury Song was brilliant in his course maiden win; and Asking has a rating of 91. The Lyons runner gets the nod.

Aidan O'Brien introduces a colt by Invincible Spirit, the National Stud's equivalent of Ronaldo, in the opener. He could prove up to the task, yet preference is for son Joseph's Spirit Power, which has an experience edge.

Harbour Beacon is a notable participant in the auction maiden. The Ger Lyons-trained son of Harbour Watch carries the silks of Qatar Racing and should take a bit of beating.

The presence of the 94-rated Rivellino is notable in the claimer but it might pay to chance Complicit each-way back over six furlongs under Ross Coakley. Trainer John Levins has been among the winners on grass.

Irish Independent

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