Delta Work to lead Gordon Elliott’s bid for Grand National glory

Trainer also runs highly-fancied Escaria Ten and last year’s fifth Farclas as he bids to join select group of four-time winners

Gordon Elliott is set to saddle a team of eight runners in pursuit of a record-equalling fourth Randox Aintree Grand National success on Saturday.

Having used Silver Birch's victory in 2007 as a springboard to his stellar career, Elliott subsequently landed the National back-to-back in 2018-19 with Tiger Roll.

Now he has an opportunity to join legendary figures Fred Rimell and Red Rum's trainer Ginger McCain as a four-time winner of the world's most famous steeplechase.

Elliott indicated on Tuesday that Delta Work will lead his National squad that also includes the highly-fancied Escaria Ten and last year’s fifth Farclas.

He has opted to switch Battleoverdoyen to Friday’s Topham Trophy over the National fences which will allow his stable companion Death Duty to be promoted into the race when a final field of 40 is declared on Thursday.

It leaves the Co Meath trainer looking at the prospect of saddling almost a quarter of the runners on Saturday.

That isn't the biggest team Elliott has sent into National action. In 2019 he had 11 runners in the race as Tiger Roll recorded his second victory in the race. That beat the record set by Martin Pipe with 10 runners in 2001.

Delta Work tops a likely team of half a dozen runners for owner Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown Stud team in Saturday's big race. Twice successful with Tiger Roll the Ryanair boss also scored with Rule The World in 2016 and another National success will leave O'Leary as the most successful owner in the race's history.

Elliott's great rival Willie Mullins is planning on having up to four runners in the National including last year's fourth, Burrows Saint. The outsiders Brahma Bull, Class Conti and Agusta Gold will also take their shot at Aintree glory which Mullins believes has to be secured if he is to have any chance of making a late swoop on the British trainer's championship.

No Irish-based trainer has won the British championship since Vincent O'Brien in 1954 and Mullins is a 12-1 outsider to bridge that gap after his record-breaking Cheltenham last month.

“No matter what we do at Aintree – unless we win the National – I don’t think we’ve a reasonable chance,” he has explained. “It’s too soon for us after Cheltenham. I don’t like going to Aintree that quickly after Cheltenham. We will be more focussed on Fairyhouse and Punchestown.”

Social racegoers

Separately, some sort of post-pandemic normality returns at Leopardstown on Wednesday afternoon with a student race day. Pre-pandemic evidence suggests a boisterous attendance of up to 10,000 although it will be interesting if wider economic problems impact on a programme featuring the Listed Gradguide Heritage Stakes.

How many social racegoers will appreciate the bloodline significance of some of the runners is debatable but there are some fascinating pedigrees on show. None more so than Newfoundland, a full brother to the ill-fated dual-Oaks heroine Snowfall, who makes his debut in a mile and a quarter maiden.

Among the regally-bred Ballydoyle runner’s opposition is Donnacha O’Brien’s First Emperor, a half brother to Snow Lantern, and either of them will be smart if managing to beat the 99-rated Boundless Ocean.

Later on the card Ryan Moore will team up with Only, a daughter of Deep Impact and another dual-classic winner in Winter. Considering the apparent stable second string Lullaby has an official rating of 93, Only must be showing significant ability on the Ballydoyle gallops.

The opening maiden also contains a number of highly-promising fillies including the newcomer Eyaziya, a daughter of Sea The Stars.

There is no uncertainty about the considerable level of talent in Pearls Galore who starts her campaign in the Heritage with Group One glory the target later in the season.

Twice runner-up at the top level last year in the Foret and the Matron Stakes, Pearls Galore’s main opposition looks to be Cadillac and the recent Lincolnshire winner Raadobarg.

"The plan with leaving her in training was to try and win a Group One and Wednesday is hopefully just the first step. It's her first start and she could be a bit ring-rusty but it's very much a starting point with Group Ones later in the year in mind," said Pearls Galore's trainer, Paddy Twomey.