Gordon Elliott has farmed valuable handicap chases in recent seasons, but the Goffs Thyestes Chase is one of the few to elude the trainer.
Responsible for the runner-up in each of the last two seasons, he can make the breakthrough this afternoon, with Out Sam just preferred to stable companions Ucello Conti and Monbeg Notorious.
The selection was a smart horse in younger days, but never quite managed to build on the promise of his early starts. Nevertheless, he remains a capable sort, and made an eye-catching debut for Elliott, when tenth behind Anibale Fly in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas festival.
While he never managed to get competitive that day, he finished off to good effect to be beaten a little over 24 lengths. It was a better effort than the distance beaten might suggest, and a big step forward can be expected.
He gets in here with just 9-10 to carry, and the booking of James Bowen, who takes off a further 3lbs, is another positive. The ground will be extremely testing, and the trip will take some getting, but that’s not a major concern for the nine-year-old, whose four wins to date were on soft ground.
He can take this at the expense of Ucello Conti, who was third in the race in 2016 and runner-up last year.
The latter finished in front of Out Sam Last time but will need to be better at this stage of his career then ever as he has been raised 5lbs for that run, to a mark of 148, compared to the 143 he ran off in each of the last two runnings of this race. He looks a solid each-way bet but may find one or two too good once more.
Another stable companion, Monbeg Notorious, is potentially better than his handicap and should excel over the trip, but his jumping has plenty of room for improvement, and this is a tough race for his introduction to handicapping.
Elliott should also be on the mark in the PMF Accountants Beginners’ Chase, with De Plotting Shed. The trip is on the short side, but he ran well over the distance when runner-up to Saturnas just 11 days ago.
On that occasion, he gave a fine exhibition of jumping, and travelled strongly but was unable to resist the late effort of the odds-on favourite. That was his first run after a mid-season break, and he should be better for it. With the conditions likely to make this race something of a test, he can prove too strong for Montalbano and Bunk Off Early.
Scarpeta will take beating in the opening race, the Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle. A decent sort on the flat in Britain, he ran a super race on his hurdling debut, last month at Navan.
Though never able to land a meaningful blow, there was a lot to like about the way he stayed on up the hill to finish third behind Speak Easy, with subsequent winners Riders On the Storm and Dortmund Park behind.
While that effort suggests he wants further than today’s two-mile trip, he should be able to use the experience to land the spoils today.
Money for Gordon Elliott’s runners, newcomer Monatomic or prolific flat-race winner Cartwright, would be worth noting.
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