Conflated could head straight for Cheltenham Gold Cup

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The Gordon Elliott-trained nine-year-old announced himself as a player in the staying division when causing a shock in last year's Irish Gold Cup but instead of taking part in the Friday feature when running at Prestbury Park a month later, he dropped back in trip for the Ryanair Chase where he was a late faller in pursuit of the winner Allaho. Returned to staying trips he was second to Clan Des Obeaux in the Bowl at Aintree and built on his Down Royal reappearance behind Envoi Allen to once again rule the roost at Leopardstown when brushing aside Kemboy by five lengths in the Savills Chase over the Christmas period. That looked to tee up a defence of his Irish Gold Cup crown at next month's Dublin Racing Festival, and although set to be given the option of that Grade One contest, connections appear to be siding towards heading to the Cheltenham Festival fresh - where he is a best price of 14/1 to taste Gold Cup success. "We're probably veering towards heading straight to Cheltenham," said Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud. "It will be down to Gordon, but I imagine we'll be going straight there. "He will get the entry for Leopardstown and we will see how he is. I imagine it is more likely we will go straight to Cheltenham than run at Leopardstown, but we will see what the ground and everything else is like and make a decision then." On his Cheltenham chances, O'Leary continued: "Is he good enough to win a Gold Cup? I do not know. Will he get the chance to prove it? He definitely will. "I suppose it's quite hard to believe it (he is good enough), like he won very well (in the Savills Chase) but is the second good enough to feature in a Gold Cup? You would doubt it. "There's a horse called Galopin Des Champs in the way, who looks to be very good."

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