Saturday 17 March 2018

Wikaala can keep Elliott yard on a roll

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Gordon Elliott, who had sent out an incredible seven winners at Perth since the turn of the British jumps season - although none of his four runners came up trumps last night - saddles nine of a 12-strong raiding party at the picturesque Scottish venue this afternoon.

Five of those winners from the three-day meeting a fortnight ago are once again engaged today, as well as Wikaala, which found just one too good under Tony McCoy in an intermediate chase.

Beaten by a late spurt from the smart Nine Stories, Wikaala may not have impressed many with his tenacity, but should be able to do better now.

The Diesis six-year-old faces just three rivals in the Timothy Hardie Jewellers Beginners' Chase. If Wikaala doesn't encounter any misfortune along the way, it's unlikely any of the trio will trouble him under Jason Maguire.

Grand National-winning rider Maguire partners Colin McBratney's Selection Box in the opening intermediate hurdle, but Elliott's Trendelenburg should add to his success last month in this. Having also scored at Navan in March, Trendelenburg is on a three-timer here.

While he has to concede weight, Keith Donoghue's five-pound claim helps, and he is still clear on official ratings. Indeed, if his revised mark of 130 is accurate, Trendelenburg should be nearly unbeatable despite his burden.

Elliott has other outstanding chances on the card, but maybe the best value to be had about one of his will be Third Level Tom in the Gammies Country Clothing Handicap Chase.

Formerly in the care of Charles Byrnes, that one looked in need of the run when a well-beaten sixth at the last meeting, so he should strip fitter now.

Meanwhile, Ed Dunlop is under the impression that Kieren Fallon will be riding Native Khan in the Investec Derby next month.

Fallon partnered the grey to victory in the Craven Stakes earlier in the season and would have ridden him in the 2,000 Guineas but for receiving a suspension.

Fallon flew to Ireland last Sunday to ride Recital for his former boss Aidan O'Brien in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, sparking speculation he would keep the mount in the Classic.

However, Dunlop said: "At this stage, as far as I'm concerned, Kieren will be riding Native Khan."

Irish Independent

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