Elliott’s Empire set for Gold run
Empire Of Dirt will be tested at the highest level in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 12.
Empire Of Dirt will be entered in the Irish Gold Cup
A winner at the Cheltenham Festival for the now retired Colm Murphy last March, he has only run once for new trainer Gordon Elliott.
He was also successful then, in the valuable Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan, and is now set to step up in class.
"We'll enter Empire Of Dirt in the Irish Gold Cup, the entries close soon for that," said Elliott.
"So he'll be entered in that, he's obviously entered in the Gold Cup but we'll see what weight he gets in the English National. I'd like to fire as many at that as I can.
"He'll be entered in the Irish National as well.
"There's three weeks between Cheltenham and Aintree this year but we'll see how he gets on in the Gold Cup at Leopardstown and go from there."
Despite current champion Don Cossack being retired, Elliott still has Outlander and Don Poli in the Cheltenham picture.
"Outlander will go straight to Cheltenham. He'll be entered at Leopardstown, but we'll have Don Poli for that and Empire Of Dirt," he told At The Races.
"Outlander has had four runs already so we'll freshen him up and just go for the Gold Cup."
One horse Elliott inherited from Willie Mullins who has not been out yet is the promising Blow By Blow.
He beat Elliott's Death Duty at Fairyhouse and also beat Moon Racer at the Punchestown Festival.
"I'd say he's a very good horse but he had a little setback and he's just back cantering now actually," said Elliott.
"I don't know if I'll run him over hurdles this year, I might leave him and go back for one of the championship bumpers, either that or a graded hurdle. He certainly won't be running in a maiden hurdle at this time of year.
"He beat Death Duty. I was disappointed at the time and thought the bubble had burst, but it just shows how good a horse he is that he beat Death Duty.
"He'll be a big three-mile chaser."