GOLD CUP HERO Minella Indo will face King George winner Frodon and the improving Galvin in a fascinating Champion Chase at Down Royal.
The first Grade One chase of the new National Hunt season has attracted a stellar five-strong field on Saturday – and while in the past the presence of the current Gold Cup holder might have frightened off any serious opposition, this year’s race promises to be riveting.
Minella Indo helped to headline Henry de Bromhead’s unbelievable success at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, during which the County Waterford trainer also won the Champion Hurdle with Honeysuckle and the Champion Chase with Put The Kettle On.
It had been announced earlier in the week that Jack Kennedy would retain the ride on Minella Indo. However, his boss Gordon Elliott has claimed his services, meaning Rachael Blackmore takes the ride.
Paul Nicholls’ Frodon continued to surprise last year – and having won the Ryanair in 2019, he took his form to a new level last Christmas, making every yard of the running in Kempton’s showpiece.
Having failed to see out the Gold Cup trip, he then bounced back on the final day of the season at Sandown to take the Oaksey Chase.
He is the winner of 17 races in his career, and Bryony Frost will be seeking her 10th success on his back.
Galvin is the unknown quantity for Elliott. He has won his last six, including the National Hunt Chase last March when with Ian Ferguson while Elliott served his suspension.
This represents a big step up in class, and will be his first run in a Grade One over fences.
Elliott also runs Delta Work, the mount of Kennedy – who two seasons ago won the Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup – and Ravenhill, the National Hunt Chase winner from 2020.
Envoi Allen also returns to action, on something of a retrieval mission in the Join Racing TV Chase.
A faller on his first run for De Bromhead at Cheltenham after being switched from Elliott by owners Cheveley Park Stud, he then went wrong at Punchestown and was pulled up.
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That was Blackmore’s first time riding him, and with Davy Russell required to ride for Elliott she is back on board this weekend.
Elliott’s Coko Beach and Vado Forte take him on, along with Fairyhill Run in a field of six.
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