Elliott out to pull off latest magic trick with reinvention of Pallasator
Profile Systems Champion Novice Hurdle | 2m4f | Grade 1 | ATR/RTE2
Time will tell if Gordon Elliott this year realises his dream to be champion trainer, yet regardless of how the title fight ends, the pretender to the throne has achieved something remarkable with former star Flat stayer Pallasator.
Sir Mark Prescott enjoyed some great days with the big beast, including Group wins in the Doncaster Cup and Henry II Stakes.
Unfortunately, for all that Pallasator was a smart performer on the Flat he was also something of a nutcase, often behaving terribly in the minutes leading up to a race.
Those days seem to be in the past, for since joining Elliott Pallasator has gone from being a tiger to a pussycat, winning a Punchestown charity race on his debut and most recently collecting two novice hurdles, including a Grade 2 prize at Fairyhouse.
Now Qatar Racing's nine-year-old seeks to do something he could not manage on the Flat by winning a race at the highest level and, just like his last two victories, it will be Davy Russell providing assistance from the saddle.
"What has happened with the horse is phenomenal," said Qatar Racing's Peter Molony.
"Gordon's done a great job and the horse has really settled down. In the past it was when he was getting jocked up and then when going down to the start that he could be a bit hairy, but that doesn't seem to be the case any longer. When Norman Williamson rode him in a charity race at Punchestown he behaved like a lamb and it has been the same ever since.
"Since he went over hurdles the horse has improved with every race and Gordon feels he's improved since the last race as well. This is his first time in Grade 1 company but, fingers crossed, he'll acquit himself well."
Pallasator will be one of two runners for Elliott, but a stronger numerical representation, assuming there are no non-runners, will come from the yard of Willie Mullins, whose six-strong challenge features Scarpeta, Duc Des Genievres and Tuesday's disappointment Getabird.
The only other trainer with a candidate is Mags Mullins, whose Debuchet is chasing a first success of the campaign.
What they say
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Dortmund Park and Pallasator
Pallasator is going for a hat-trick over the trip. This will be a tougher test but he seems in good form. Dortmund Park will need to improve on his last couple of runs.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Burrows Saint, Duc Des Genievres, Getabird, Real Steel, Scarpeta, Whiskey Sour
The longer trip might suit Getabird, who was too keen in the two-miler on Tuesday. He's a course and distance winner. The extra half-mile shouldn't be a problem for Whiskey Sour, who has been consistent all season and ran well in the two-mile Grade 1 on Tuesday. Duc Des Genievres has been a bit disappointing after running well in a couple of Grade 1s but we think the trip and the ground will suit. We might try different tactics on Scarpeta, who has the ability to be a big player. Real Steel ran poorly on bad ground last time and could be in the shake-up on his best form. Burrows Saint looks to have it all to do.
Mags Mullins, trainer of Debuchet
It was a good run last time at Cheltenham. where the ground was against him. The ground might end up being against him again but I think he'll run a nice race.
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