21 February 2023

Elliott backs Delta Work to lead his Aintree charge

21 February 2023

Delta Work – the horse who foiled Tiger Roll’s fairytale farewell at Cheltenham last season – appears to be Gordon Elliott’s main fancy as the trainer seeks a fourth success in the Randox Grand National.

Third to Noble Yeats last April having narrowly played the role of party pooper against his then stablemate in the cross-country chase, the 10-year-old will be heading to Liverpool with experience under his belt this season.

Having run a fine race over the cross-country course in January, he had a spin over hurdles last time out at Navan when sixth to Blazing Khal and he has been allotted 11st 4lb.

“This has been the plan all season. He has a nice weight for the race and I’m happy with that,” said Elliott.

“We just switched him back to hurdles on his last start to sharpen him up a bit as he had gone a little bit rusty. It was a race we had run Tiger Roll in before he went to Cheltenham and then on to Aintree.

“I thought he ran very well in the National last season behind Noble Yeats. He got a little bit far back early on and he had lots to do. Having had that experience over the fences, we go back there with plenty of confidence and we are looking forward to it.”

Coko Beach (11st) bounced back to form at Punchestown last week in a Grand National Trial but, unfortunately for him, the handicapper had time to reassess the winner of that race this year.

Elliott said: “It was a great run to win the Grand National Trial at Punchestown on Sunday. He jumps great and he enjoyed the ground. He will definitely run in the race.

“I thought it was a good run in the race last year when he finished eighth and he is another we are looking forward to taking back over again.”

Galvin (11st 11lb) has not been at his best so far this term but still finds himself towards the head of the weights.

“He started off the season very well winning a Grade Three at Punchestown but his form has just tapered off a bit. He has just had a little procedure done on his back and he is back working well,” said Elliott.

“The plan is to run him in the cross-country race at Cheltenham then on the National. We sort of thought last season that he could be one for the National as we thought he was probably just lacking a gear for races like the Gold Cup and those sort of Grade One races.

“He seems in good form and we are looking forward to running him in the National. I think he will be fine over the fences.”

Conflated (11st 12lb) is joint top-weight along with Any Second Now and Hewick, with Elliott feeling he may be more one for next year with the Gold Cup his main aim this season.

“He will go to Cheltenham first for the Gold Cup and we will see from there whether he will be one for the Grand National this season or next season,” said Elliott.

“He would be a very classy horse to have in the race. I could see him being a horse for the National, but it might be a year too early to run him in the race.”

Ryanair Chase-bound Fury Road (11st 6lb) is another unlikely to run.

“He will probably be a doubtful runner I would say at the moment. We will probably just go for the Ryanair and see after that,” said Elliott.

Pencilfulloflead (10st 12lb) is a possible, though, having finished third in the Thyestes last time out.

He is on the right side of the 11st mark and he is exactly in the sort of place where we want to be in the race

“He is a good horse and has a lovely weight on his back. He ran very well in the Thyestes the last day. He is good now, but we just had a few issues with him early on,” said Elliott.

“He is sound now and is in good form. He is on the right side of the 11st mark and is exactly in the sort of place where we want to be in the race. He should enjoy a test like this.”

Farclas (10st 10lb), fifth in 2021 as a seven-year-old, is another in the mix.

Elliott said: “He ran well in the race in 2021 when he finished fifth. The plan was to go there again last year but he got a little setback. He has a lovely weight on his back and all being well, he will go back there this year.”

Of Escaria Ten (10st 10lb), ninth last year, Elliott felt he had a nice weight but failed to see the trip out last season while Dunboyne, second in the Thyestes, would be an ideal type for the race but with only 10st, he might not make the cut.

Battleoverdoyen and Death Duty could also take their chances but Elliott feels Ash Tree Meadow will be better off waiting for next year, while Defi Bleu, Gevrey, Milan Native, Punitive, Fakiera and Mortal are unlikely to get in.

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