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Gordon Elliott previews his list of handicap runners at Cheltenham, he expects to bring “between 50 and 60” horses over from Ireland for The Festival.
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Elliott, was has saddled 32 Festival winners, said: “I’ve just had a quick look at the weights and I suppose the best handicapped one I’ve got is probably Death Duty in the Ultima – he’s down 1lb. Most of my others are up around 4-6lbs and I understand that the handicapper has a job to do, but Death Duty is the one who’s dropped a bit.
“Frontal Assault will run in the Kim Muir. He’s up 6lbs and he’ll just get into it, so we’re looking forward to running him.
“Top Bandit hasn’t done anything wrong so far, but this is going to be his biggest test in the County Hurdle. He looks like he’s got a nice weight in it and he’s in good form.
“Buddy Rich has got 11 stone and he’s off 144, so he’s up 6lbs. He runs well fresh and will like the ground and should be right there.
“Sire Du Berlais qualified for the Pertemps at Warwick and he’s only a pound higher than he is in Ireland off 156. Rob James is going to ride him and take 7lbs off him so that will leave him with a nice weight in the race off 11-05. I’d think we’ll be using Rob’s claim on some of our higher horses in the handicaps at Cheltenham this year, we think he’s great value for his claim considering all of the point-to-point winners he’s ridden.
“Fil Dor would be a doubtful runner at the top of the Boodles as he’s more likely to go for the Triumph. The Tide Turns is only up 2lbs from his Irish mark and we’re happy enough for him to go. I thought he really caught the eye at Gowran Park the last day and we’ll probably run five in that race.”
Of his non-handicap race contenders, Elliott added: “We’re looking to take between 50 and 60 horses to Cheltenham and if I was talking today I’d probably be looking at about 55 coming over. Obviously we need to look at the weights but we’re definitely at the 50 mark.
“I’m yet to speak to Michael O’Leary about Conflated but obviously the Ryanair is a really important race to them as they sponsor it and he’d like to have a runner in it. He’s in both that and the Gold Cup though and we’ll make our mind up closer to the race.
“Teahupoo and Zanahiyr will both go to the Champion Hurdle. Zanahiyr was second to Honeysuckle at Leopardstown last time out and I think the track will suit him. Teahupoo is an unexposed horse and we’re not sure how good he is, both horses take their chance in the race and they’re in very good form. Jack (Kennedy) will probably ride Zanahiyr as he’s always ridden him and Robbie Power will probably ride Teahupoo as he won on him the last day and he rides for the owners Robcour.
“Delta Work has been very good and has been over to Cheltenham schooling over the banks (Cross Country Course). We’re very happy with him and I suppose if the ground came up on the better side it would be to Tiger Roll’s advantage whereas if it came up on the softer side it would play into Delta’s hands.”