Gordon Elliott targets a happy Grand National anniversary
Frank Monkhouse | 8 April 2017
Trainer holds a strong hand at Aintree
10 years on from his Grand National win, Gordon Elliott looks to do it again in the big one at Aintree on Saturday, and boasts a strong hand. The respected trainer, out of County Meath, goes into the 2017 renewal boasting two runners in the first 10 of the betting with Coral, hoping to celebrate his tin anniversary by rolling back the years.
Silver Birch gave Elliott his place in history, delighting those who kept faith to score off a massive 33/1 SP. He now saddles two main contenders, according to Coral odds compilers, in the vastly experienced Cause Of Causes, and the rather less exposed Ucello Conti.
Elliott confident on the chances of Conti
The latter ran in last year’s race, finishing down in sixth, but it was a respectable effort, and the nine-year-old gelding would’ve learned much from that outing, an experience that can only help his chances this time out. Course form is worth its weight in gold with punters – race experience counts double.
He was last seen finishing fourth at Naas over three miles, in a race won by Abolitionist. That was Ucello Conti’s second outing of the year so far, and there were one or two glimmers of promise in the performance, involved in the mix at the business end of proceedings, before dropping a couple of places pushing for home. He didn’t offer much when the going got tough that day though, finding no extra on the run-in.
Punters who caught the race live, or have taken the time to watch back replays, may just be scared off by that, and Coral traders are offering up a chunky 20/1 on him getting home in front on Saturday. A big price, but not quite as big as when Silver Birch shook the sport for Elliott, and I reckon connections ensured he kept a bit aside that day for Aintree. He certainly won’t be written off easily.
Cause Of Causes looks primed to strike
One who stands more of a chance on the day is Cause Of Causes. Currently fourth in the betting with us at 14/1, behind Vieux Lion Rouge, Definitely Red and Blaklion, the active nine-year-old ended eighth in this race back in 2015, but chose not to come back for more last year. He looks poised to be thrown into the mix again here though, and will be popular in the pre-race betting.
He didn’t ever get near the winners during his 2015 push, and hadn’t been seen doing an awful lot to whip up interest in the market since, but that all changed with a stunning winning effort at the Cheltenham Festival last time out, earning an eighth career win when landing the Glenfarclas Chase prize money.
Beating a talented field into submission that day, he came home a full nine-lengths ahead of nearest finisher Bless The Wings, off a handy 4/1 SP, under the ride of Jamie Codd. That was Cause Of Causes’ first visit to the winner’s enclosure in a year, winning the Kim Muir Challenge Cup, also at the festival, again by a comfortable winning margin.
Does he save his best for Prestbury Park these days? Our horse team certainly don’t think so, and have him chalked up on the board at a tasty 14/1, which is, of course, now non-runner money back with Coral.
If we see a repeat of the race ran last time, then backers will be up at the counter cashing in their Grand National winning slips.