Elliott set to work Cheltenham big guns after racing at Leopardstown
Making the most of the opportunity just over a week out from Cheltenham
Gordon Elliott: ‘We’ll have about 40 working here either tomorrow or on Tuesday morning. All the main Cheltenham horses will be here.’ Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Gordon Elliott could have to write a sizeable cheque to Leopardstown racecourse after giving many of his Cheltenham Festival team a post-race workout at the track on Monday evening.
The nondescript seven-race programme that brings Leopardstown’s National Hunt season to a close is followed by the traditional series of post-race gallops for Cheltenham horses.
If the session’s significance has waned compared to when stars such as Florida Pearl and Hardy Eustace put finishing touches to their festival preparations, Elliott looks like making the most of the opportunity just over a week out from Cheltenham.
“We’ll have about 40 working here either tomorrow or on Tuesday morning. All the main Cheltenham horses will be here,” Elliott said on Sunday.
That potentially includes the prime Gold Cup contender Delta Work, the dual-Grand National hero Tiger Roll and Envoi Allen, unbeaten in seven starts and a hot favourite for Wednesday week’s Ballymore Novice Hurdle.
Any work is unlikely to be too strenuous with just eight days to the scheduled start of Cheltenham.
However, with Leopardstown charging €150 a horse for the opportunity to stretch their legs away from home, it promises to be a lucrative exercise for the Horse Racing Ireland-owned track.
Willie Mullins hasn’t used the Leopardstown gallops as much in recent years but said on Sunday: “I’ll see what the ground is like here today and we might bring a few up to jump fences tomorrow.”
Jockey David Mullins returned to action just over a week ago following four months on the sidelines after fracturing his T12 vertebrae in a fall at Thurles in October.
Barnaviddaun was his first ride back but a couple of poor jumps in the straight at Fairyhouse spoiled what might have been a fairytale comeback.
The seven year old has the chance to reverse that form with Funky Dady in Monday’s auction novice hurdle.
Former Grade One winning novice hurdler Dortmund Park has a second start over fences in the first of the Beginners Chases.
The other Beginners sees the 113-rated Shakeytry set a standard, one that the double hurdles winner Stucker Hill could exceed on her second start over fences.