Elliott upbeat on Carlito’s Cheltenham chances

Gordon Elliott feels Carlito Brigante’s previous experience of Cheltenham will stand him in good stead when he tackles the Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival.

Winner of the Coral Cup in 2011, he also scored over fences there earlier this season as well as running well behind Dynaste in November.

Due to the very wet winter and his preference for good ground, the seven-year-old has been limited to one all-weather start at Dundalk, but Elliott believes he is capable of running a big race.

“We’re very happy with him and he’s had two very good runs at Cheltenham this year,” said Elliott.

“Obviously ground is the key to him, there has to be good in it and he likes Cheltenham.

“The plan has been the novice handicap chase, we’ll put cheek pieces on him, he’s in good form and we’re looking forward to it.

“We sent him there (Cheltenham) earlier in the season for experience and he ran a very good race against Dynaste and was upsides at the second last, but we didn’t knock him around when it was obvious he would be beat.

“He’s got loads of experience round there, which is important, and he seems to like it.

“We sent him to Dundalk to wake him up a bit as he’s a bit of an old pet around the place now so we just wanted to open him up.

“We had him as a three-year-old. He’s a Cheltenham winner so if he never did another thing he wouldn’t owe us anything, but I’ll be surprised if he’s not in the money.”

Meanwhile, leading Irish amateur jockey JT McNamara is due to return to action this weekend after recovering from a dislocated shoulder.

McNamara, who suffered the injury at Stonehall point-to-point on February 10, is again in demand in all the amateur events at the Cheltenham Festival.

“I think I’m riding Drawn N Drank for Enda Bolger in the four-miler (John Oaksey National Hunt Chase), if he gets in,” said McNamara.

“Enda quite likes him but he’s not certain to get in just yet.

“If he doesn’t get in I’d imagine I’ll be riding one for Jonjo (O’Neill).

“I’m also riding one for Jonjo in the Kim Muir but I’m not sure which. “I’ve been out with a dislocated shoulder but I’m riding at a point-to-point this weekend.”

Elsewhere, Liz Doyle has decided against taking Le Vent D’Antan to Leopardstown for a gallop after racing on Sunday.

The four-year-old is strongly fancied for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper and Doyle was expected to fine tune his preparations along with a host of other stars at the weekend.

However, Doyle was slightly concerned about the risk of drying ground at Leopardstown and gave him a spin earlier this week instead.

While everything is going to plan, she admits to being relieved at the prospect of rain at Cheltenham in the lead up to the meeting.

“He seems very well,” said Doyle.

“I’m not going to take him to Leopardstown now. I just thought the ground could get a bit quick for him so we took him for a spin on a grass gallop on Tuesday instead.

“He’s bouncing, he has been perfect, but we could just do with a bit of rain before Cheltenham, which it looks like they’ll get. There’s just a question mark over him on good ground and I’d rather run with everything in his favour.


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