Mullins and Elliott go toe-to-toe in feature handicap chase
Coral.ie Leopardstown Handicap Chase | 2m5f, 5yo+ | ATR/ RTE2
Gordon Elliott v Willie Mullins. It may only be January, but these valuable handicaps have been injected with extra spice as many look forward to the spring and try and gauge who will ultimately be crowned champion trainer in Ireland.
Elliott has set an unrelenting pace in the major handicaps this season winning the Munster National, Troytown Chase, Paddy Power Chase and most recently the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase with Ball D’Arc.
Elliott is represented by seven horses in this as he bids to add another big pot and keep Mullins at arm’s length in his pursuit to come out on top at the end of the season.
Mullins last tasted success in this race in 2001 with Micko’s Dream and relies on Rolly Baby, Tennis Cap, The Paparrazi Kid and New Kid In Town as he bids to end the drought.
Classy sorts do well
Don't let a big weight put you off. Five of the last 10 winners of this race carried over 11st to victory proving a classier sort can cope with the conditions of the race.
What they say
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Clarcam, Killer Crow, A Toi Phil, Vukovar, Rightdownthemiddle, Space Cadet and Shadow Catcher
Clarcam is not well handicapped at this stage but if you are to look at the positives, Lisa [O'Neill] takes a few pounds off his back and he will love the ground. It wouldn't be a handicap chase without Killer Crow and one of these days he will surprise a few. Also in the Gigginstown silks we have A Toi Phil who probably didn't quite get home in the Grade 1 novice chase at Christmas and I think the step back to two miles five furlongs will be right up his street. Vukovar runs off a long layoff but we think he is a nice horse and there will be plenty of good races to be won with him. The same can be said about Rightdownthemiddle. Both of those horses are new to us but hopefully they will win plenty. Space Cadet looks like he is well weighted and I think he can run well while Shadow Catcher will appreciate the better ground and always runs his race.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Rolly Baby, The Paparrazi Kid, Tennis Cap and New Kid In Town
We have a four-strong team for this and Ruby's mount - Rolly Baby - has a good chance of bagging the prize. He was bang there leaving the back straight in the Paddy Power but got tired from the second last and looked as though he was in need of the blowout. That should bring him on in leaps and bounds. The shorter trip should also suit Tennis Cap, who ran well for a long way in the Paddy Power, but The Paparrazi Kid looks up against it on his return from a 469-day absence. I don't normally like running horses out of the handicap but we have booked Rachael Blackmore for New Kid In Town and she takes off a very valuable 5lb.
David Mullins, rider of Stellar Notion
He ran a cracker in the Paddy Power and jumped brilliantly. He should have no bother stepping back in trip here and fingers crossed he will be in with a big shout.
John Ryan, trainer of Kylecrue
I would have preferred if it was a little bit softer but I suppose it will be the same for them all. This has been the plan ever since he finished third in the Munster National. He will love the trip and he's still on the improve despite the fact that he's now 10. I’m going to Leopardstown expecting a big run from him.
Jim Culloty, trainer of Lake Takapuna
He may have been a bit fortunate to have won the last day at Leopardstown. The handicapper gave him 5lb for that effort and you would have to say he has a nice racing weight again today. While this is more competitive than the race he won last time, he has a very good chance under a good rider in Jonathan Moore.