Saturday 14 December 2019

Elliott goes all out for Irish National

Tiger Roll to defend Aintree title with 'no panic' over Samcro

DOUBLE ROLL: Trainer Gordon Elliott and Tiger Roll at the launch of the 2019 Boylesports Irish Grand National at Gordon Elliott’s yard in Longwood, Meath yesterday. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
DOUBLE ROLL: Trainer Gordon Elliott and Tiger Roll at the launch of the 2019 Boylesports Irish Grand National at Gordon Elliott’s yard in Longwood, Meath yesterday. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Gordon Elliott featured heavily among the entries released yesterday for the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday and last year's winning trainer hopes his representation this year could be into double figures.

The English Grand National hero and four-time Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll led Elliott's string at the weights launch yesterday morning and while Aintree remains the number one target for Tiger Roll, Elliott didn't rule out Fairyhouse either.

"There is over two weeks between Aintree and Fairyhouse this year so I'll have horses that will run in both of them to be honest," Elliott admitted.

"I have to talk to Michael and Eddie but as far as I'm concerned the English National remains the target for Tiger Roll. But he will be left in Fairyhouse and could easily come back if he tipped up at the first or something like that."

The Grade One winning mare Shattered Love holds entries in both too but she is one of those more likely to be kept for Fairyhouse although plans are still very much in the early stages for her following her Gold Cup run last week.

"I only got to have a quick look at the weights and I'll need to sit down and talk to all my owners but Shattered Love could definitely go to Fairyhouse," Elliott added.

Last year's winner General Principal's main target is Aintree while the Punchestown National Trial winner Dounikos will go wherever he gets suitable ground.

"Dounikos ticks a lot of boxes. I think he's a horse who likes better ground so we'll go where the ground is. He's tough. Him and General Principle, it wouldn't surprise me if they went to both. Folsom is another who could do both."

Reflecting on Cheltenham last week Elliott revealed that his team had come home in relatively good shape and most would be seen again before the season is out.

A tally of three winners was lower than last year's record total of eight but the trainer was happy with how the week went overall.

"If you'd have given me one winner on Tuesday night I'd have bitten the arm off you. Any year you go to Cheltenham and have three winners is a great year and if the ball had bounced the right way for us in a couple of races we could have easily had at least three more."

Apple's Jade scoped badly after the Champion Hurdle but will be back in time for Punchestown, while Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen is likely to be given an extended summer break before returning over jumps next season.

"We thought she was in great form going over but to me she was bet after two hurdles," the trainer said of Apple's Jade.

"She stepped into the second hurdle and never looked happy after it. She'll be back at Punchestown, all being well and we'll give her entries in everything there.

"I'm not taking it away from the winner. I don't know if any horse on the day would have beaten Espoir D'allen the way he won. He was very impressive."

Of Envoi Allen, Elliott added: "He's in good from, came out of the race well. I'm not sure I'll run him again. I don't think he needs to do much more for the year. He's a Grade One won and won three bumpers."

A piece of work this Friday morning could determine whether or not we see Samcro run at either Aintree or Punchestown after he failed to get back in time for Cheltenham last week.

No panic

"He's going to work on Friday morning and I'll see what to do. I'm in no panic. Eddie and Michael let it up to me what I'm going to do so I'm not going to put any pressure on myself with him. I don't need to.

"He's a good horse and once we have him back chasing next year, that's all we want."

Meanwhile, entries have been revealed for the opening of the Flat season at Naas this coming Sunday.

Aidan O'Brien was unsurprisingly responsible for the most significant entry on the card as Amedeo Modigliani appeared in the Devoy Stakes.

The colt missed all of last season having been touted as a potential Classic contender following an impressive Galway maiden success in 2017.

The likeable Aussie Valentine is on course for a remarkable fifth go at the Irish Lincoln after two runs already this year at Dundalk.

The Aido McGuinness-trained eight-year-old has yet to get his head in front in the feature race on the opening day having finished third last year and second in the race on the previous three years.

McGuinness said: "Aussie Valentine is in great form. He had two nice prep runs in Dundalk and he's had a couple of grass gallops, he galloped after racing at Leopardstown and worked very well so we are very happy with him."

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