Wednesday 18 October 2017

Extraordinary rise of Elliott should pique Festival interest

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

Cheltenham will feel like the centre of the sporting universe for much of next week and it's probably all too easy for those uninterested in racing to see the Festival as some kind of High Mass for a closed community.

The broad assumption is that you are born into such a world, but the burgeoning success of Gordon Elliott tells a rather different story.

Son of a panel-beater, Elliott expects to have roughly 30 runners in the Cotswolds and, given a fair number of them will carry the Gigginstown silks, they won't be there for the scenery.

The Meath trainer's rise to prominence has been nothing short of extraordinary given he had not had a single Irish winner when saddling the 33/1 shot Silver Birch to victory in the 2007 Grand National.

And now Elliott has a live chance of unseating Willie Mullins as Irish champion trainer with his season earnings currently climbing to almost three-and-a-half-million euro. He also, of course, ­already has claimed the one Cheltenham prize still to elude the remarkable Mullins, a Gold Cup.

For all the conventional England v Ireland narrative in Gloucestershire next week, Irish eyes will surely be just as keenly focused on the more parochial rivalry between our own two giants of the National Hunt game.

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