Gigginstown have high hopes for Delta Work, but Conflated could be rerouted

By Sports Desk April 08, 2024

Ground conditions will be the deciding factor in whether top-weight Conflated will line up in the Randox Grand National at Aintree on Saturday – with the weather pointing towards Delta Work as the number one contender for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud.

The 10-year-old Conflated, who holds alternative entries in the Aintree Bowl on Thursday and Friday’s Melling Chase, is one of 13 contenders for Gordon Elliott following the confirmation stage, with Coko Beach, Delta Work and Galvin also part of the three-time Grand National-winning trainer’s squad.

Conflated, Coko Beach and Delta Work all carry the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, who are also responsible for Farouk D’Alene, Run Wild Fred and Frontal Assault, although the latter is almost certain to miss the cut.

When asked whether the first five were intended runners Gigginstown’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “I would think at the moment yes, maybe Conflated might not, we’ll see how heavy the ground is going to be. If it’s very heavy he might come out to go in the Bowl or even the Melling.

“Would we chance him (in the National) over that trip on good ground yes, would we chance him over that trip on heavy ground, probably no. We’ll see what Gordon thinks.

“Coko Beach likes soft ground, but he mightn’t like what the handicapper’s done to him. He’s a lovely old horse, but he’s run it he race twice and failed to get home twice.

“We’ll obviously give him a bit more of a chance this year, rather than trying to make the running with him, but he got a big hike for winning the Troytown and off that weight (11st 7lb) it’s hard to fancy him. Conflated has to give him 5lb and Conflated would carry him.”

The Gigginstown colours have been carried to Aintree glory three times – twice by Tiger Roll and once by Rule The World. Like Tiger Roll, Delta Work is a winner of the cross-country chase at Cheltenham, although that race was called off this year, meaning a slightly less smooth preparation than had been hoped for.

O’Leary is still hopeful, however. He said: “I’d say of ours Delta Work would be the one. He’s a good horse and he’ll love the ground. It was a pity he didn’t get to run in Cheltenham after they called the cross country off as horses were trained for that to come forward for the National, but we are where we are now.”

Willie Mullins is also heavily represented, as he seeks a second victory in the world’s most famous steeplechase, having previously struck with Hedgehunter in 2005.

The Closutton handler’s nine-strong team features last year’s Irish Grand National winner I Am Maximus, fellow JP McManus-owned runner Meetingofthewaters and Mr Incredible.

Other leading hopes for Ireland include last year’s runner-up Vanillier, trained by Gavin Cromwell, the Emmet Mullins-trained 2022 National hero Noble Yeats, Martin Brassil’s Panda Boy, Mahler Mission from John McConnell’s yard and Henry de Bromhead’s 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Minella Indo.

The home team is led by Corach Rambler, victorious 12 months ago and the current favourite to strike gold again following an excellent third place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup last month.

Kitty’s Light would be a popular winner for Welsh trainer Christian Williams, as would Gary Moore’s Welsh Grand National scorer and proven mudlark Nassalam.

Others of note among 51 confirmations include the Tom Ellis-trained Latenightpass and Dan Skelton’s mare Galia Des Liteaux, with the latter one of six horses on 10st 6lb at the bottom of the weights.

Empire Steel, Fantastic Lady, Angels Dawn and Fury Road were the four horses not left in at Monday’s confirmation stage, while Classic Getaway, Bronn and Full Back had all been scratched.

Corach Rambler is the 4-1 favourite with Coral, with I Am Maximus and Vanillier also single-figure odds.

Coral’s David Stevens said: “Fifty years on from Red Rum’s second National victory, Corach Rambler looks set to start a warm favourite to emulate the Aintree legend and win the race in successive years, although soft ground performers like I Am Maximus and Meetingofthewaters continue to attract support in the betting.”

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    In a press conference on Monday addressing the abandoned races, SVREL Executive Chairman Solomon Sharpe expressed frustration with the rule, highlighting its potential impact on the racing industry.

    "This rule, unique to Jamaica, imposes a strict five-minute limit after the published post time for races at Caymanas Park," Sharpe stated. "It fails to account for various factors that can delay race starts and penalizes all stakeholders when races are abandoned, affecting punters, jockeys, grooms, trainers, owners, promoters, and the government."

    Last year, Caymanas Park contributed over $260 million in combined taxes to the government's coffers. Sharpe urged the JRC to engage SVREL in discussions on Rule 44, emphasizing the need for constructive dialogue to address the rule's impact.

    "We were not consulted during the initial discussions on this rule, and now, with two races abandoned in a single race day, our concerns have materialized," Sharpe explained. "SVREL is open to collaborating with the JRC to review and refine this amended rule."

    Representatives from the Grooms Association, Jockeys Association, and the United Racehorse Trainers Association echoed SVREL's concerns and supported the call for a review of Rule 44.

    Sharpe concluded by appealing to regulators, stakeholders, and the public to support the growth of the horseracing industry in Jamaica. "Horseracing has immense potential in Jamaica and can become a significant foreign exchange earner. Realizing this potential requires collaboration among all stakeholders."

    SVREL has been operating Caymanas Park since March 2017 after the government divested the property. With investments exceeding J$4 billion in product enhancements and innovations like the Mouttet Mile, which boasts the largest purse in the English-speaking Caribbean, SVREL remains committed to advancing the horseracing experience in Jamaica.

  • Supreme Ventures Racing regrets abandonment of two races at Caymanas Park on Saturday Supreme Ventures Racing regrets abandonment of two races at Caymanas Park on Saturday

    Supreme Ventures Racing & Entertainment Limited (SVREL) has expressed regret and disappointment following the abandonment of two races during the Saturday, April 27 race day at Caymanas Park in St Catherine, Jamaica.

    The decision to abandon these races, SVREL said, was made in compliance with regulations set forth by the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC), leading to the refund of all related pools according to SVREL's Pari-mutuel rules.

    According to the statement released by SVREL late Saturday, the abandonment of races number one and six, respectively, was declared by the stewards of the Jamaica Racing Commission (JRC) due to delays that exceeded the permitted time frame as stipulated by Rule 44(iii).

    Specifically, in race number one, scheduled to commence at 12:00 pm, a saddling issue with horse number five and a mandatory veterinary check for horse number eight, which reared and fell after exiting the saddling barn, resulted in delays beyond the allowable limit.

    Similarly, race number six, slated for 3:10 pm, was delayed due to a horse running loose, ultimately leading to its abandonment by the stewards of the JRC.

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  • Light seeking to shine again at Sandown Light seeking to shine again at Sandown

    Kitty’s Light is taking aim at his usual season finisher in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

    The gelding has been a star for trainer Christian Williams, winning big handicap events like the Eider Chase and the Scottish Grand National and going close in the Charlie Hall and the Coral Trophy.

    He has particularly good record in the bet365 Gold Cup on the final day of the season, missing out only due to interference when second in 2021 and coming home third in 2022.

    Last year he was completed the set of podium finishes when winning by two and a half lengths under usual jockey Jack Tudor.

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    “We were thrilled, the horse tried his best and we were very, very proud of horse and jockey.

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