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Elliott keen for Chicago fluency

Gordon Elliott believes the early stages of the John Smith`s Grand National will be crucial for Chicago Grey.

Well backed for the Aintree spectacular in recent days, the 2011 Cheltenham Festival winner has been prepared with one race in mind all season. But the nine-year-old has got detached before early on in his races, and Elliott is worried that he could get too far behind too early.

"He schooled last week, schooled very well and stays well, he won the four-miler at Cheltenham last year," said Elliott.

"He`s done everything we`ve wanted him to do this year, Paul Carberry is going to ride him.

"If he can get into a nice rhythm in the first half of the race I think he`ll run a massive race. The first four or five fences are going to be very important, if he can get into a rhythm and get jumping.

"He`s probably not the best jumper in the world, he`s adequate, he has his own technique. It`s hard to know what horse is going to take to it.

"He`s been round a lot of the park courses, I think he`ll be OK as he`s got a good man on his back. I just hope he doesn`t get detached early," he told At The Races.

Paul Nicholls is down to just one representative after the retirement of Niche Market due to injury, and expects Neptune Collonges to take his place. The striking grey, who has won three Irish Grade Ones and been placed in a Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been back to staying handicap chases this term and most recently finished second in the Haydock Grand National trial.

"He has been a wonderful horse and I'm almost certain he'll run," said Nicholls.

"It was a shame about poor old Niche Market. This horse has a touch of class and could run a solid race. I suppose he could have done with 10lb less on his back. He's got 11st 5lb, I'm sure he'll cope with that, but I haven't got a strong opinion on it."


From Belfast Telegraph