21 March 2023

No National tilt for Conflated this year, with Bowl the plan at Aintree

21 March 2023

Conflated will attempt to go one place better than last year’s second in the Aintree Bowl following his fine performance to finish third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Taking part in the blue riband for the first time, Gordon Elliott’s Irish Gold Cup and Savills Chase hero ran a stormer in the hands of Sam Ewing – still well in the mix at two out and only giving way to the high-class front two of Galopin Des Champs and Bravemansgame in the closing stages.

The nine-year-old holds an entry for the Randox Grand National on April 15 with his Cullentra House handler stating he would love to have a crack at the £500,000 contest with what he believes is “one of the best-handicapped horses in the race.”

However, owners Gigginstown House Stud are preferring to hold fire on a National tilt for this year in favour of another attempt at the opening day three-mile Grade One in which Conflated finished a length second to Clan Des Obeaux 12 months ago.

“It was a fantastic run (in the Gold Cup), we were thrilled with the performance and it was a great ride,” said Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O’Leary.

“He’s a very nice horse and two very good horses beat us. But we know we have a nice horse and we’ll enjoy him while he’s around.”

I know Gordon says he's well handicapped and he may well be, but if he goes back to the Bowl, hopefully we won't meet the Gold cup first or second there

When asked about the possibility of running in the National, he added: “I would say maybe next year and this year all being well he will go back to Aintree for the Bowl.

“I know Gordon says he’s well handicapped and he may well be, but if he goes back to the Bowl, hopefully we won’t meet the Gold cup first or second there. He’s better going left-handed so we would rather go to Aintree than Punchestown.”

Conflated may have to bide his time to represent the leading owners in the world’s most famous steeplechase, but one assured of his place on the teamsheet is last year’s third Delta Work.

He was sent off at 10-1 in last year’s race and despite being slowly away, took well to the challenge and was smuggled into the race under a patient ride from Jack Kennedy to stay on for a place on the podium.

The 10-year-old will now return to Merseyside off a 1lb lower mark and with one of his spring targets already secured, having defended his Glenfarclas Chase title at the Cheltenham Festival.

“The plan all year was the cross-country and then Grand National,” continued O’Leary.

“They were his two main targets and he’s got one in the bank. Now we’ll have a go at the second one all going well and as long as Gordon is happy.

“He missed the start last year which is really important for him as he doesn’t like horses around him. He had a ruck of horses around him, but ran a fantastic race to be third and hopefully he will get away better this year and give himself a chance.”

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