Sport

Pencilfulloflead can win Down Royal feature for Gordon Elliott

Gordon Elliott trains Pencilfulloflead
Gordon Elliott trains Pencilfulloflead

Pencilfulloflead will relish conditions at Down Royal as the rain softens the ground for St Patrick’s Day.

The Bluegrass Stamm 30 Chase oftens attracts some smart horses and with three 150+ performers it’s another good renewal of the three-mile-two contest.

Pencilfulloflead ran really well in the Thyestes Chase in late January when finishing third to Carefully Selected and may have been closer but for a mistake four from home.

The Shantou gelding just found things happening a bit too fast for him in the Bobbyjo Chase on better ground last month and his jumping wasn’t fluent on the day.

Back on more testing conditions, he’ll get more time at his fences and this test of stamina around a big galloping track should suit Gordon Elliott’s charge.

Top-rated in the race is Longhouse Poet, who has an official mark of 154, and like Pencilfulloflead he holds an entry in the Grand National.

Martin Brassil’s charge was sixth in the Aintree showpiece last season and also won the Thyestes in 2022.

Unfortunately he unseated at the first fence in the Bobbyjo last time and connections will be hoping for a clear round here as a warm up for the big race.

He commands plenty of respect as he handles this ground and stays well. There isn’t much between the pair on ratings and there might not be on the course either.

The 153-rated Burrows Saint is a former Irish National winner and is another good horse on his day. He hasn’t been seen since running poorly in France last May, however, and may be best watched today.

Elliott will be busy over at Cheltenham but could have a good day on the home front.

Stuzzikini has an obvious chance in the opening maiden hurdle after a couple of runner-up efforts.

In the concluding bumper, Silver Lark can step forward after a nice run to finish second on her debut at Thurles three weeks ago.

There is also a decent hunter chase on the card and Ultimate Optimist is hard to oppose for David Christie.

The Fermanagh handler has a serious team of hunter chasers and the Fame And Glory gelding looked smart winning on his ‘track’ debut at Limerick at Christmas.

Tips (win/next best)

1.50 Stuzzikini (MacDermott)

2.30 Thecornerhouse (Duffys Getaway)

3.10 Luimneach (Ottoman Style)

3.50 Pencilfulloflead (nap) (Longhouse Poet)

4.30 The Greek (Chameron)

5.10 Ultimate Optimist (Lord Schnitzel)

5.50 Silver Lark (dbl) (Cuta Des As)