Gordon Elliott confirms Don Poli and Empire of Dirt heading to Cheltenham

Duo placed behind Jessica Harrington’s impressive Sizing John in Irish Gold Cup

Sizing John had too much for Don Poli at Leopardstown. Photograph: Inpho/Donall Farmer

Sizing John had too much for Don Poli at Leopardstown. Photograph: Inpho/Donall Farmer

 

Empire Of Dirt and Don Poli will head to next month’s Cheltenham Festival after filling out the places in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Having finished runner-up to stable companion Outlander in the Lexus Chase over the course and distance in December, Don Poli was favourite to go one better in Sunday’s feature event.

However, the Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old had to make do with minor honours once more as he was beaten into third by Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John.

Splitting the pair in second was Elliott’s Empire Of Dirt, who, having travelled strongly, could drop in trip at Prestbury Park.

“They both ran good races,” said the Cullentra handler.

“I suppose with Don Poli we’ll look to run in the Gold Cup and Grand National.

“Empire Of Dirt could be a horse for the Ryanair the way he travels.

“We have no excuse. The winner is a really good horse and he beat us fair and square.

“We’re happy enough.”

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