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Cheltenham 2017: Dedigout heads Elliott's Down Royal bid

By Ron McKnight

Dedigout, which bypassed his engagement in yesterday's Grade One Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, is one of a pair of Gordon Elliott-trained runners in the feature chase on St Patrick's Day at Down Royal.

Roi Des Francs is the other Elliott runner - the pair owned by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary - in the feature at Down Royal, where all Cheltenham Festival races will be shown on the big screen and included in today's race card.

Dedigout's recent runs have been over hurdles, notably behind Apple's Jade - winner of the Grade One Mares Hurdle on Tuesday at the Festival - and Sutton Place.

Elliott, on form at Cheltenham, is represented by Crest in the Guinness Novice Chase, but trainer Tony Martin is double handed with Surrogate Lad and Mydor - the latter is the top rated runner and gets the vote.

Quiet Account failed to make the cut for today's Foxhunters at Cheltenham and trainer Colin McBratney has re-routed the horse to the Maze hunter chase.

While Quiet Account was a very easy winner at Armagh recently, Maple Mons gets the vote.

David Christie's champion point to point mare ran a fine race last weekend to finish runner-up to Foxrock, now unbeaten in his four starts in hunter chases, and can collect with top Downpatrick rider Declan Lavery taking the mount.

The Edward Harty-trained Jack Dillinger stands out on form in the opening Guinness Hurdle following a couple of solid fourth placed efforts.

The Martin-trained Seaweed is the danger, while locally-trained Colwinston and Swordfighter hold place prospects.

In the Martinstown Hurdle, Come Dance With Me, L'Attesa, Tyrone Tiger and Backinthesaddle form the shortlist with Graphic Legacy the likely favourite.

Backinthesaddle could gain a repeat victory at the course for Ballyclare handler Ben Arthey.

Trainer Karl Thornton's runners at the local course are worth noting and Bearly Legal could land the long distance handicap hurdle if accounting for Returntovendor and Optimised.

Drummullagh Rocky sprang a 100/1 shock at Perth during the summer and the McParlan stable is in top form at present.

Simone has solid claims in the finale following a third place at Leopardstown.

The majority are newcomers and Ratoute Yutty, Moyhenna and Love N'Peace look the dangers.

Meanwhile, Colin Tizzard remains optimistic multiple Grade One winner Thistlecrack will be back in time to resume his racing career at Christmas.

The nine-year-old was ruled out of today's Cheltenham Gold Cup after sustaining a tendon injury in the build-up to the Festival showpiece, for which he was the ante-post favourite.

Tizzard said: "We've got to make sure we get him right for next season. The issue is only very small. I see no reason why he shouldn't be back before Christmas and then have a couple of runs before the Gold Cup."

Today's Down Royal Tips: 1.50 Jack Dillinger 2.30 Backinthesaddle 3.10 Bearly Legal 3.50 Mydor 4.30 Dedigout 5.05 Maple Mons 5.35 Simone

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