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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Improving Doctor bids to make successful transition to graded company

The Phoenix rises: Davy Russell gets a superb jump from Doctor Phoenix to settle matters in the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase.
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3.45 Naas 
Paddy's Rewards Chase | 2m | Grade 3 | ATR

Seldom has £10,000 been so well spent.

That sum was enough to snatch Doctor Phoenix from the David Dennis stable last May and it already looks one of the best bargains Gordon Elliott has ever purchased.

His recent success in the Dan Moore Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse bagged €59,000 for connections and he had already banked €15,375 for scoring at Cork in November. Now, at the age of ten, he needs to prove he has improved enough to make the transition from handicapper to graded performer. His rating has soared from 137 to 155 in three months so he certainly deserves a shot.

"He won well at Fairyhouse but this is another step up and he'll need to improve again. It looks like they won't hang about and the race will be run at a decent clip. That will suit him," said Elliott of Doctor Phoenix's chances.

Elliott has decent back-up too. Ball D'Arc has visited Naas three times and he's been successful on each occasion. He is officially rated 2lb better than stablemate Doctor Phoenix, but must concede 9lb to that rival. 

The disappointing Tell Us More completes Elliott's three-pronged attack. 

"Ball D'Arc is in good form and has done really well for us since going over fences. He'll run his race and should be in the thick of things. Tell Us More has obviously been disappointing and has a bit to prove now. He looks up against it," Elliott said. 

Willie Mullins last won this race in 2011 with Golden Silver and American Tom represents the champion trainer in his attempt to end a seven-year drought. 

Mullins said: "Although he's not well-in at the weights and might prefer better ground, American Tom has run well over course and distance this season and should finish in the money."

Henry de Bromhead has dominated this Grade 2 in recent years, winning four of the last five runnings of the race with Days Hotel (2013, 2014, 2016) and Alisier D'Irlande (2017). 

Last year's winner is his sole representative on this occasion and he needs to bounce back from a below-par effort in the Grade 2 Coral Dublin Chase, where he trailed in last of the seven runners, 83 lengths behind Min. 

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It looks like they won't hang about and the race will be run at a decent clip. That will suit him
E.W. Terms
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