Gordon Elliott proved he could handle the big occasion when winning the Grand National in his first full season as a trainer. That didn’t bring overnight success though, and he’s slowly built up the number of horses in his table and his number of winners in each season. Now, with an influx of major horses owned by the Gigginstown Stud, he is set to fight out the Irish Trainers Title with Willie Mullins.
Therefore, we thought it was time to take a look at some of the stars that might win him his first Trainers Title.
Started the season rated 152-rated after looking a filly of some potential after winning the major juvenile races at Aintree and Punchestown last season, but didn’t build-on those runs when meeting defeat on her first two starts of this season. However, stepped-up in trip to 2½-miles for the first-time, she restored her reputation and some with a defeat of the previously unbeaten Vroum Vroum Mag in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. May try and win the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Cause Of Causes
Now won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals and, having already proved he stays 4-miles, the Grand National will surely be his major target this season. No surprise if he doesn’t win a race over fences before then – and maybe worth an ante-post bet for the National.
Made giant strides as a hurdler in his first season with Elliott, and impressed on his chasing debut at Galway. Well-fancied for a Grade-1 Chase, but folded tamely. The JLT Chase at Cheltenham looks an obvious target, but it will be interesting to see what handicap mark he gets.
Last season’s Gold Cup winner is a special horse, but it remains to be seen as to whether he can return from injury just as good. Seemed to thrive on busy campaigns too, so a second Gold Cup will be a tough ask with probably only time to get one run into him before he tries to defend his crown.
Started the season rated 161 after being placed in several Grade-1 races last season. However, having already proved he likes Aintree, connections may fancy he’s made to win a Grand National. No surprise then that he didn’t show much on his seasonal debut and, if connections can get a few pounds off his back before April, a bold National bid would be expected.
Empire Of Dirt
Put-up to a mark of 148 after winning the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, but that didn’t stop him being an impressive winner of another handicap last time out. May step-up into graded company now, and could take it in his stride.
Prince Of Scars
Rated 159 over hurdles, he looks likely to make up into a serious staying chaser this season over 3-miles or further. Loves soft ground, but may also be perfect for the 4-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, if connections think the ground is too quick for him in the shorter RSA Chase.
Connections have run him twice over 2-miles over fences, and that looks a shrewd plot to try and get him well-handicapped for later in the season when he steps up in trip. Ran at Cheltenham and Aintree last season, and no surprise if he wins a big handicap at one of the festivals.