Elliott out to keep momentum going at local track
Cheltenham? That's only the start for Gordon Elliott. On Sunday he returns to his local track Navan after a week to remember in the Cotswolds, but there will be no hangover with the trainer insisting it will be business as usual as he chases some valuable prizes.
In the opening 2m6½f novice hurdle (2.10) Elliott is responsible for two of the four runners.
He said: "Baltazar D'Allier is in great form and ran well to finish second in a Grade 1 behind Messire Des Obeaux in December. That form has got a nice boost since and I think he should have a nice chance.
"We're putting blinkers on Monbeg Notorious and hopefully he can run well too."
In the €42,500 Grade 2 Webster Cup Chase (3.45), run over 2m4f, Elliott saddles A Toi Phil. Winner of the Leopardstown Handicap Chase in January, the seven-year-old was then no match for Disko and co in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase, and Elliott admits he is slightly worried about the Gigginstown-owned chaser having to concede a 5lb penalty.
"I couldn't be happier with the form he's in or anything like that, I'm just a little worried he has a big weight to carry. He should run his race but it will be tough for him."
Gigginstown are also represented by Mozoltov, while JP McManus runs both Nearly Nama'd and Double Seven.
Dual Grade 1-winning novice hurdler The Tullow Tank has had his problems since those heady days in 2013, but trainer Alan Fleming reports the nine-year-old to be in super form, and he completes the five-runner field.
Fleming said: "He's shown plenty of his old spark lately. We took him to Leopardstown the other day with a bunch of horses and he showed us plenty. We're thinking about the Irish National but we'll get this out of the way first."
Connections of Oscar Knight also harbour dreams of winning the BoyleSports Irish Grand National and are hopeful of a prominent show from the eight-year-old in the €65,000 3m novice handicap chase (4.20).
Last seen finishing third in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown in December, trainer Tom Mullins decided to skip the Leinster National at Naas last week in favour of this test.
"We gave him a good long break after the Paddy Power and he's ready to start back," said Mullins.
"He missed Naas last week and he might even be a little bit fitter for that extra week now. The Irish Grand National is still the big aim."
Mullins' brother Willie is represented by Retour En France, while Elliott is again responsible for the topweight, Jetstream Jack.
Elliott said: “Again, you’d have to be worried about carrying a big weight, but it’s a decent pot and he’s fit and ready so has to take his chance. It’s a good race but I’m expecting him to run well.”