Trainer Gordon Elliott, successful with Don Cossack in last week’s Punchestown Gold Cup, started the new jumps season in style when sharing a double with amateur rider Barry O’Neill in Down Royal yesterday.
Off the track since last September, Flaxen Flare justified 4/11 favouritism on his fencing bow in the Charles Caldwell Memorial Beginners Chase, prompting his trainer to explain: “Barry Geraghty rode him in Galway last year and told me he didn’t have the scope for winter ground. He’s been off since and won well. We should have fun with him for the summer.”
The Elliott/O’Neill double was completed when Make A Track, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, defied top-weight in the Daily Mirror Handicap Chase, battling back on the run-in to foil Marito.
Ten-times champion Ruby Walsh provided Gigginstown with the first leg of a double when Marinero justified 4/6 favouritism in the Sean Graham Bookmakers Hurdle.
The six-year-old was the first leg of a double for Tony Martin (also successful with Okotoks in the bumper) who explained: “He was unfortunate in Aintree and deserved this. He’s due a break and will come back over fences.”
Steven Clements, successful on Okotoks, had initiated his own double when Jim Dreaper’s Lord Fingal, the even-money favourite, completed a hat-trick in the Newmac Contracts Ltd. Hunters Chase.
* Suegioo will face 16 rivals in his attempt to register back-to-back successes in the Betway Chester Cup tomorrow.
The Marco Botti trained six-year-old led home a one-two for owner Dr Marwan Koukash 12 months ago in the two-and-a-quarter mile handicap when defying Angel Gabrial by half-a-length.
Angel Gabrial will be in opposition once again this time shouldering top weight of 9st 10lb. He will be one of four runners in the race for trainer Richard Fahey who will also be represented by Duke Of Clarence, Gabrial’s King and Gabrial’s Star.
Impressive Ripon winner Trip To Paris is one of two entries in the race for Ed Dunlop with the Newmarket handler also saddling last year’s fourth Mubaraza.
Mymatechris will attempt to follow up his game win on in the marathon contest on All-Weather Championships Finals day and hand trainer Andrew Balding a first win in the race, while Meydan winner Famous Kid will fly the flag for Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor.
The Tony Martin-trained Quick Jack heads the raiding party from Ireland with the Dermot Weld’s Zafayan and Shu Lewis, who has been handed the plum draw in stall one for trainer Monica Dowdall Blake, also making the trip.
Sir Michael Stoute’s runner Altaayil has been well supported in the run up to the race but he is one of two reserves along with Bernard Llewellyn’s Kashgar.
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