Gordon Elliott: trainer saddles three in the Drinmore
PICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos)
Elliott expecting Diamond to sparkle
Preview: Fairyhouse, Sunday
Bar One Drinmore Novice Chase (Grade 1) 2m4f, 4yo+
THE two superpowers of Irish racing, Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, have shared the last four runnings of this between them, but with no Mullins representative in today's line-up, it is left to the current pacesetter to keep the domination going.
Elliott is seeking a fourth Drinmore triumph in just seven years after Jessies Dream (2010), Don Cossack (2013) and No More Heroes (2015) did the business and he launches a three-pronged attack on the race, including last season's Coral Cup winner Diamond King, who heads the betting at 5-2.
The eight-year-old made a seamless transition to chasing at Galway in October when barely touching a twig en route to a 14-length win and Elliott says he has had this race on his agenda ever since.
"Diamond King will love the ground and we have trained him for this race," said Elliott. "I am very happy with him and think he has a big chance."
Elliott also runs Lieutenant Colonel and A Toi Phil. The latter won the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown last month and is the 3-1 second favourite to follow up here.
"A Toi Phil is in good form and he will like the ground. He was good at Punchestown and I just think the bit of better ground today will suit him better again," Elliott added.
Tony Martin has never hidden his admiration for the JP McManus-owned Anibale Fly, who comes into the race on the back of a beginners' chase win at Navan, the form of which was franked by Martello Tower at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
"He won his beginners' chase well and this was the obvious step for him," said Martin. "He might prefer it a bit softer but the ground is the same for them all. It's too early to say how good we think he might be but, strictly on hurdles form, some of these were rated much higher than him. Having said that, I think he can turn into a nice chaser."
McManus is also represented by Coney Island, who finished placed in a Grade 1 over hurdles and shaped with promise when finishing second in a beginners' chase on his first start over fences last month.
Trainer Eddie Harty said: "He's in great form and I was very pleased with his first run behind Haymount at Punchestown. It's a big step up in grade but I think it's worth a shot. The ground should be fine for him."
The seven-runner field is completed by Alpha Des Obeaux and Road To Respect, who, like A Toi Phil and Lieutenant Colonel, are owned by Gigginstown House Stud.