Horse Racing: Aintree the aim for Don Poli


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Gordon Elliott is likely to make the Aintree Grand National his key target with Don Poli this season.

The seven-year-old made an inauspicious start to his time with Elliott on Saturday when he was pulled up by Barry Geraghty in the Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Don Poli was one of the most high profile horses to leave champion trainer Willie Mullins last month as leading owners Gigginstown House Stud removed 60 horses from his yard at Closutton.

Along with Apple’s Jade, Don Poli made the switch to Elliott’s base in Co Meath. Like Apple’s Jade before him on Friday, he was unable to make a winning start however as Henry De Bromhead landed the first Grade One chase of the season with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Valseur Lido.

That pairing proved much too good for the front-running Silviniaco Conti at Down Royal. Don Poli meanwhile was never really comfortable in the three-mile contest and, having dropped to the tail of the field, he was pulled up by Geraghty half a mile from the finish.

Third in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham back in March, Elliott hinted afterwards that he is likely to head for Aintree this season instead.

“He didn’t want to go from the first fence so I don’t know. I’d say Grand National but we’ll get him home and see,” said Elliott afterwards.

Don Poli won a three-mile Listed chase at Aintree last December, repelling the challenge of former Grand National winner Many Clouds in the process. He also finished second in a Grade One at the Merseyside venue in April, chasing home Cue Card.

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