Thursday, 19 October 2017

Top novices Samcro and Death Duty installed Festival favourites, after Gordon Elliott enjoys Punchestown six-timer

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Gordon Elliott’s strengthened his grip on reclaiming the top trainer title at the Cheltenham Festival, as exciting prospects Samcro and Death Duty won impressively in a six-timer for Elliott at Punchestown.

Samcro was visually the most impressive winner of the day for Elliott, as his exciting novice opened his account over hurdles.

The five-year-old was hugely impressive winning by 15 lengths, and has since been shortened into 5-1 for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next year.

"Job done, we think he's a nice horse,” Elliott said after the race.

“Jack said it was pretty straightforward and he would have done as much at home on the gallop.

"He's relaxed and you could step him up in trip but he's got pace. He's a nice horse, it's hard to know how good he is but we like him and we think the world of him.

"It'll be steady, and he'll have one more run before Christmas I'd imagine.

"We'll have to look at something like the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. I've said it all along, I think he's quick enough for two miles and he has the stamina to stay and step out whenever you want.

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Death Duty fell at he final hurdle when well beaten in the Albert Bartlett in this year's Festival

Another of Elliott’s leading Festival hopes, Death Duty, was victorious on the card as he landed a first pattern prize over fences.

Sent off at odds-on he was a comfortable winner at Punchestown, beating closest rival Tout Est Permis by 11 lengths. He is now priced at 10-1 for the JLT, and 12-1 for the RSA, with his optimum trip still unknown.

"I've always thought the world of this horse,” added the Irishman.

“Last year I was of the opinion that he probably wanted three miles, but I'd say I might have been wrong, to be honest.

"He wasn't right in Cheltenham, so look we'll put a line through last year. He was always bought to be a chaser and chasing is his game. He's a horse to look forward to.

"I'd say he'll go for the Drinmore (at Fairyhouse) now and I'd say he'll go straight there."

Felix Desjy looked to be an exciting bumper horse, winning the finale by ten lengths. Whilst King’s Song, a 3-1 winner for Tippin’ Jimmy, Ben Dundee and Pallasator added to a dominant day for the master of Cullentra.

Yet Thursday also proved a good day for Noel Meade, who had two winners at the County Kildare venue.

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Road To Respect has been cut to 25-1 for Gold Cup glory following his encouraging Punchestown success.

2017 Cheltenham Festival hero Road To Respect fought off some tough competition to enhance his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims.

The former Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate winner stayed promiment before finishing strongly towards the finish to land Grade Three honours by just under two lengths for jockey Sean Flanagan.

He defeated outsider Kilcarry Bridge in second, followed by Melling and Ryanair runner-up Sub Lieutenant.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco could only finish fourth in the 3m1f event.

Lex Talionis was the other winner on the card for County Meath-based Meade.

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