Death Duty: “A real chaser for the future and he has done very well”
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos
By James Burn 6:00PM 3 JAN 2017
WILLIE MULLINS and Gordon Elliott, locked in a fascinating battle for the jump trainers’ title in Ireland, look set to play two of their aces at Naas this weekend after it was confirmed on Tuesday that Yorkhill and Death Duty would be in action on Sunday’s card.
Mullins, champion for the last nine seasons, trails Elliott by €226,325 in the title race but remains Paddy Power’s 8-15 favourite, while his rival is 11-8.
Yorkhill, 7-2 favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March and prominent in the betting for the Racing Post Arkle, is likely to play a significant role for Mullins in his quest for a tenth crown this season.
Owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, the seven-year-old won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at last year’s festival and followed up by winning Aintree’s Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
He also struck on his chasing debut at Fairyhouse last month and is inked in to run in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Novice Chase on Sunday.
“Yorkhill has been in great form since Fairyhouse and he is ready to take his chance, he will run on Sunday,” said Mullins, who has also entered American Tom and Royal Caviar entered in the race.
Death on duty for Elliott
Elliott could be represented in that by Ball D’Arc, Double Scores and General Principle, but his most interesting runner at Naas looks to be Death Duty, who chases Grade 1 laurels in the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle.
Unbeaten in three runs over hurdles, he is 8-1 market leader for this term’s Neptune and 11-4 favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
He is held in the highest regard by connections and Eddie O’Leary, manager of owners Gigginstown House Stud, said on Tuesday: “Death Duty will run at Naas on Sunday. He is a real chaser for the future and he has done very well over hurdles so far this season.
“We are looking forward to him and hopefully he can step up again. We will also run Blood Crazed Tiger in the race and he is quite exciting as well, he has won his last four starts over hurdles.”
Mullins has three entries in the €90,000 contest, a race he has won five times since 2009.