herald

Wednesday 18 October 2017

tomorrow

Elliott to end luckless run in
Ireland's richest jump race

Gordon Elliott famously saddled Silver Birch to win the 2007 Aintree Grand National and with that he has been second to none other than Willie Mullins in the Irish trainer standings as well as masterminding Grade One and Cheltenham Festival winners.

There is no shortage of ambition in the air around his County Meath base and you get the impression that his yard with 80 boxes may need more planning permission to extend sooner rather than later.

With all his achievements to date, and those that are inevitable in the future, you could never say that winning a race like the Galway Hurdle was a God-given right, but even God himself must nearly feel Elliott deserves to win a Galway Plate at this stage.

In 2010, Elliott's Dirar finished third behind the above average winner Overturn, and the following year he took up the same placing, this time behind Moon Dice.

In 2012, Cause Of Causes flashed home under Davy Condon to give Davy Russell the fright of his life as he saluted the crowd on Rebel Fitz and last year Elliott's agonising sequence of placed efforts in the race continued with Flaxen Flare having to settle for second behind Missunited.

Tomorrow he could well be responsible for the race favourite in Bayan and few would foresee him being out of the first three and by the very fact that he vying for favouritism, few would be surprised if he won.

The five-year-old has already been a great servant for his owners, the Core Syndicate, of which At The Races presenter Gary O'Brien is a proud member and he is hoping that Bayan can secure an eighth win in just 16 starts since he was purchased from Brian Meehan. O'Brien told the Herald: "He's a magic horse to be involved in really. I think in his last 15 starts he has only been out of the prize money once and that was at Ripon when, for whatever, reason he just ran below par."

The five-strong Core Syndicate had been on the look-out for a horse off the flat when Bayan was bought at the Horse In Training Sales at Tattersalls in October 2012 for just 14,000 guineas and he has certianly repaid that modest sum.

"He is just one of those horses that you go to the races always feeling you have a chance, be it on the flat or over jumps and he is very similar to Quick Jack in that regard," O'Brien continued.

Bayan ran at last year's Galway Festival when just denied by a head in a Premier Handicap on heavy ground.

"We were still finding out about him here last year and to be honest didn't fancy him on the ground but he ran a blinder and hopefully he can do the same again tomorrow."

Of course, tomorrow's Galway Hurdle was due to feature the Willie Mullins-trained Royal Ascot winner Pique Sous but he suffered a season-ending injury when schooling last week and that means that Willie Mullins won't be represented in the race that he won back in 1996 with Mystical City.

charge

Tony Martin won the Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap for a second time in as many years on Monday evening and he will go in search of more feature race success as his charge Thomas Edison has been well backed for Galway Hurdle glory and could well dispute market leadership with Bayan.

A winner on his last two starts on the flat, Thomas Edison failed to land a blow in two big handicap hurdles at Cheltenham and Punchestown but has been backed from 14/1 last week into 6/1 with some firms.

With Mick Winters, especially over the last two years, and the Three Friers Cross Syndicate, who owned Moon Dice prior to that, the Galway Hurdle aftermath has been a scene of jubilant celebration and should Bayan provide Elliott with his first Galway Hurdle, expect the long weekend to hit Galway a couple of days early.

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