Gordon Elliott targets Coral Welsh National glory with Folsom Blue
Trainer sending Burren Life to Limerick in hope of winning €50,000 Tim Duggan Handicap Chase
Trainer Gordon Elliott has 22 horses competing this week. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
It will be all hands on deck again for Gordon Elliott’s team as they are set to saddle 22 runners on Thursday including the stalwart stayer Folsom Blue in Chepstow’s Coral Welsh National.
Victory in the marathon highlight will put a seal on Elliott’s notable 2018 “National” portfolio.
It is highlighted by Tiger Roll’s memorable Aintree success in April. However, General Principle also landed the Irish National at Easter while successful variations on the National theme this year were provided by the Midlands (Rogue Angel), Cork (Out Sam) and Ulster (Poormans Hill).
Elliott is hoping to break new ground at Chepstow though as just two Irish-trained horses have ever won the race.
Notre Pere scored for Jim Dreaper a decade ago while Gavin Cromwell’s gallant old-stager Raz De Maree scored last year and is back for another try just days shy of his 14th birthday.
With Ross O’Sullivan’s mare Baie Des Iles – fifth to Native River in the 2016 Welsh National – also lining up it represents a powerful Irish team, although bookmakers believe Folsom Blue is the best of them.
That’s probably due to the general impression he was an unlucky loser in that Irish National behind General Principle, having his remorseless progress interrupted by being knocked sideways at the final fence.
A stamina slog on soft ground over almost three and three quarter miles should be right up Folsom Blue’s street and he will be ridden by the top amateur jockey Jamie Codd.
The bulk of Elliott’s Thursday squad go to Leopardstown but he has four runners at Limerick too and Burren Life can land the featured €50,000 Tim Duggan Handicap Chase.
His appearance will be keenly examined by those lining up for the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown 20 minutes later, in particular JP McManus’s team.
Their De Name Escapes Me has topped the betting on the lead up to the €200,000 event and had Burren Life behind him in third when successful at Navan earlier this month.
That was a good effort from a novice who brings a progressive profile to this race in comparison to some of his opposition. That includes the last two winners of the race, de Benno and Westerner Point.
Burren Life’s major threat though could come from an even less exposed type in Rooster Byron.
Paul Nolan’s runner won a chase at Clonmel in March and followed that up with two wins over hurdles before returning to action over flights at Cork last month.
Elliott runs two in the mares maiden hurdle where Rapid Response could step up after a promising debut fourth behind Moscovite at Navan.