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Elliott double handed in Grade 1 opener

Defi BleuDefi Bleu
© Photo Healy Racing

Defi Bleu and Commander Of Fleet fly the flag for Gordon Elliott in Saturday’s Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Elliott’s unbeaten gelding Battleoverdoyen was due to be the star attraction, but he was not declared, leaving his two stablemates to contest the Grade One event.

Pat Fahy ’s dual bumper winner Dunvegan made a big impression on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse and takes a marked step up in class.

Fahy said: “He seems in good form — I couldn’t be happier with him, to be honest.

“Everybody was very impressed with him in Fairyhouse and we think a lot of the horse.

“He looks exciting and we’ll find out how exciting on Saturday.

“It’s a good race, so even if he runs well but gets beaten, it won’t be a dead loss.”

Willie Mullins saddles five of the 16 runners — with Come To Me Dorrells Pierji Getareason Relegate and Salsaretta all declared.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “Ruby (Walsh) has decided to ride Relegate, probably more on her bumper form than her hurdling form and she will need to jump better.

“Paul (Townend) has gone for Come To Me. He was disappointing the last day, but we’re just putting a line through that and he was very good in his maiden hurdle in Cork.

“Willie has put me on Salsaretta, which is great. She beat Felix Desjy in Limerick the last day and that looks good form with him coming out and winning the Moscow Flyer. She only carries 11st 3lb — so I’ll have to sweat a bit to do the weight.

“I think Getareason is a good bet to be in the first three or four, while Dorrells Pierji was disappointing the last day and needs to bounce back.”