Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
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Pied Piper: Prepares to contest Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Pied Piper avoided a clash with jumps racing’s newest idol Constitution Hill last Saturday but the Champion Hurdle hopeful will be thrown into the deep end at Leopardstown next month with Gordon Elliott clearing him to contest the Matheson Hurdle.
Entries for the seven Grade 1 races and the Paddy Power Chase staged at Leopardstown’s four-day Christmas extravaganza opened on Monday and Elliott is gathering a huge army for the occasion.
Conflated caught him by surprise last season and the Irish Gold Cup winner will return next month in a bid to give his trainer a fourth victory in the Savills Chase, where he is likely to be joined by last year’s winner Galvin and another stablemate, Fury Road. .
Speaking at a press morning organized by Leopardstown and Horse Racing Ireland, Elliott said: “Leopardstown at Christmas is brilliant. The atmosphere is second to none and it is one of the best racecourses in Ireland. We will be busy during the four days and if I have a winner on a day I would be happy. I am never too greedy.
“Pied Piper’s next race will be in the Matheson Hurdle and he has become much stronger this season. He is improving with every run and is a very nice horse.
“He’s two from two this season, but we know he’ll have to improve again to get to Grade 1, but he’s certainly gotten a lot stronger.”
Sharjah are chasing a stunning fifth Matheson Hurdle win. Unsurprisingly, his name is one of five trained by Willie Mullins as State Man, Vauban, Saldier and Echoes In Rain are also possible.
Elliott said of his Savills team: “I was very pleased with Conflated at Down Royal. He had a good shot and will come up big for the run. I was probably a bit surprised when he won the Irish Gold Cup – I wasn’t. I don’t know he was that good. He is an honest horse in his day and his aim is the Savills Chase.
“Galvin was dirty after the race at Down Royal but he’s back well now. He’s got a big heart. He finished fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Fury Road will love the Leopardstown pitch.”
Among the 17 entries for the Savills Chase is Gold Cup hero A Plus Tard, 2020 race winner and current Gold Cup favorite Galopin Des Champs. There is no UK entry, but National Hunt winner Chase Stattler appears, as do Envoi Allen and Minella Indo.
Elliott admitted that perhaps the strongest competitors on his team sheet are his rookie chasers. Fil Dor and Hollow Games, both impressive winners of Novice Chases at Navan, could face off in the Brand New Racing Post Novice Chase on December 26, where Appreciate It, Dysart Dynamo, El Fabiolo and Sir Gerhard all hold entries for Mullins.
Elliott said: “Fil Dor was perfect at Navan, attacked his fences. He always looked like he was going to be a hunter and he was sure to head for Leopardstown. I may have run Hollow Games the wrong distance last year. I was trying to get him to stay but the way he ran over 2m1f at Navan last day, it could be his trip.”
On Sunday’s big upset American Mike Elliott said: “It wasn’t straight after the race so he’s having a few easy weeks and seeing where we are. It was disappointing, but he is a very, very good horse. We know what the problem is. and we just have to work it out now.”
Leopardstown CEO Tim Husbands said he “couldn’t be more pleased with the quality of the entries for the seven Grade 1 races and the Paddy Power Chase” and that he is currently going yielding on the steeplechase and good to yield, giving way in places on the tracking route. .
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PUBLISHED FOR FIRST TIME 18:00, NOVEMBER 28, 2022