Gordon Elliott eyes up double glory at Downpatrick
Gordon Elliott could depart with a brace courtesy of Knight's Parade and John Monash from tomorrow's Ulster Grand National meeting at Downpatrick.
As ever, Elliott doesn't discriminate on the basis of quality, a point backed up by his 38 winners for a 22pc strike-rate at the Co Down track over the past five seasons.
All of his six runners tomorrow have chances of sorts, but it is the aforementioned duo that are most strongly fancied.
Knight's Parade appeals as solid nap material in the two-and-a-quarter-mile conditions hurdle under Davy Condon.
The Dark Angel five-year-old developed into a real improver in the autumn, winning tidily both here and at Carlisle on his third and fourth outings over flights.
After four months off, he then returned on the level at Dundalk last month and confirmed the impression that he is still on the ascent with a facile win in a ladies' amateur riders' race.
That should have left Knight's Parade spot on for this, so he can stretch his unbeaten run to four against seven largely more exposed rivals.
Mark McNiff's facile course maiden winner Idlewild is the one unknown quantity. He could well spoil the party, but he wasn't as good as the on the Flat.
Elliott's John Monash will also take some stopping in the bumper. Tony Martin's Lip Service has twice run well in defeat and is an obvious threat, but John Monash can atone for a slightly unlucky debut reversal at Stratford two weeks ago.
The Kayf Tara four-year-old did Condon no favours when he came off the bridle in the straight and he was eventually denied a head by War On The Rocks. If he has learned from the experience, he can make amends now for Nina Carberry.
Ruby Walsh journeys north for just one ride, his father Ted's Salsa Sensation in the opening maiden hurdle. Elliott's Utmost Zeal is among those with chances in this, but Salsa Sensation has it within his range to collect.
A point-to-point winner in November, he ran a fine race to be third to Fletcher on his track bow at Leopardstown in January.
JP McManus' Edward O'Grady-trained Jumptoconclusions gets the nod to defy a seven-pound hike for an impressive four-length course win earlier in the month under Barry Geraghty, while Paul Nolan's Jupitor could be the one in the Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National.
This €25,000 three-and-a-half-mile handicap chase is wide-open, but the return to an extended trip will suit Jupitor, which has the added benefit of the five-pound-claiming David Mullins up top.
Disappointing at Naas last time, the nine-year-old had twice run well behind Embracing Change, this looks made for him.