Elliott plots Troytown dozen but insists 'no chance' of title
He may be leading Willie Mullins in terms of both winners and prize-money but Gordon Elliott says he has "absolutely no chance" of winning the trainers' title this season.
Having received more of the 60 Gigginstown runners that left Mullins than any other trainer, Paddy Power initially made Elliott odds-on to win the title. He drifted markedly but was back into 9/4 recently, with Mullins having few runners and losing Vautour.
However, the main challenger to the dominance of Closutton has completely dismissed his chance this season. Yesterday's events, when Outlander's last-fence fall gifted the Mullins-trained Alelchi Inois the €50,000 Grade Two Clonmel Oil Chase, did not help.
He said: "I'm realistic and I've absolutely no chance of winning it. I just have to keep training winners and keep improving."
It will do his prospects no good of winning the title but Apple's Jade may represent the stable in Newcastle's Fighting Fifth Hurdle tomorrow week.
Mullins may bid to snare the Grade One for the first time with Galway Hurdle winner Clondaw Warrior, though both he and Apple's Jade, which he trained last season, have alternative options.
While Mullins deemed it "too early to say" whether or not Clondaw Warrior would make the trip, Elliott said: "It's the Fighting Fifth or the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle in Fairyhouse the following weekend for Apple's Jade.
"I will speak to Eddie and Michael O'Leary. She definitely will have improved for the run at Down Royal but she would certainly have to and I still have the same view that she's probably not Champion Hurdle class.
"You look at last year's juvenile form and wonder how good it was. I wouldn't mind stepping her up in trip."
The run of high-class filly Jer's Girl in Sunday's StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle will give some indication of the quality of the four-year-olds relative to the older horses, with Gavin Cromwell saying last evening that she will likely run, pending a visit by the vet this morning.
Elliott, meanwhile, is bidding for a third successive win in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase on Sunday week and could have a staggering 12 runners, with the sponsor making Noble Endeavor 10/1 joint-favourite.
"It's my local course and it's a big race for me," he said. "There's every chance I'll have up to a dozen runners."
Don Cossack, the Gold Cup winner last season, is "cantering away" and will continue to do so for the next eight weeks or so. His rider, Shane McCann, "says he feels great," Elliott added.
Aidan Coleman will be declared to ride Coneygree in the Betfair Chase at Haydock tomorrow but Richard Johnson could end up taking the mount if Menorah is declared a non-runner.
In Britain yesterday afternoon, jockey Ryan Clark was banned for six months by a British Horseracing Authority disciplinary panel after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine on September 20.