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Conflated heading for Ryanair Chase rather than Gold Cup

Gigginstown House Stud supremo Michael O’Leary is in favour of running Conflated in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, instead of bidding for Boodles Gold Cup glory.

The Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old proved he has what it takes to make his mark at the highest level when landing the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown earlier this month.

But with Elliott responsible for another leading Gold Cup contender in Savills Chase winner Galvin, O’Leary would prefer his charge to run in a race he sponsors and won for the first time with Balko Des Flos in 2018.

“I don’t think Conflated will win the Gold Cup, because if Galvin runs in the Gold Cup for Gordon, I think we’ll switch Conflated to the Ryanair,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“I don’t think Conflated would beat Galvin and I think it would make sense from Gordon’s point of view to divide the two horses.

“We’ll go and take on Willie (Mullins) in the Ryanair.”

O’Leary also confirmed his dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll will be retired after bidding for a sixth Festival win in the Glenfarclas Chase, having already ruled out going for a third National triumph.

Tiger Roll in action at Cheltenham last year
Tiger Roll in action at Cheltenham last year (Tim Goode/PA)

Connections have long been unhappy with his handicap mark in Britain, and O’Leary issued a statement just hours after the unveiling of the National weights on February 15 in which he described his rating of 161 as “absurd”.

Asked what he would have been happy to run off, O’Leary said: “If he (British Horseracing Authority handicapper Martin Greenwood) rated him at around 150 and gave him a 5lb premium for his past Aintree performance, he’d be 155, which is what the Irish handicapper rated him this time last year. We’d have run him at that and it would at least have given him a fair chance.

“You cannot defy age. He will not be in the Grand National by the time he runs in the cross country – he’s coming out at the next forfeit stage. I have no intention of asking the horse, who is like a fifth child to me, to carry 11st 8lb or 11st 10lb around Aintree at his age.

“Thankfully, the Tiger Roll controversy will never happen again because he will be retired after the cross-country race in Cheltenham this year.”

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