Tuesday 17 July 2018

Revealed - Gordon Elliott wins two grade ones but Willie Mullins title odds shorten slightly despite frustrating day

Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins
Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Gordon Elliott struck back in the race to be crowned this season's champion National Hunt trainer in Ireland by saddling a Grade One double on the second day of the Punchestown Festival.

The Cullentra handler headed into the showpiece fixture with a lead of over 400,000 euro, but the time the opening afternoon of the Festival came to an end, perennial champion trainer Willie Mullins had cut the gap to 259,655 euro.

Horse Racing Ireland confirmed that the deficit was now 276,780 euro after day two.

Mullins landed the first blow on Wednesday, with C'est Jersey (7-1) leading home stablemate Battleford for a one-two in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.

However, the tide began to turn after 14-1 shot Champagne Classic provided Elliott with his first top-level success of the week in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

It could all have been so different had the Mullins-trained Djakadam not been beaten a short head in a dramatic conclusion to the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old still picked up 50,000 euro for finishing second behind Sizing John, closing the gap to 218,780 euro.

But Elliott then completed his big-race brace with Fayonagh, who had little trouble following up her Champion Bumper success as she dominated from the front in the Racing Post Champion INH Flat Race.

With her stable companion Poli Roi also contributing to the kitty by finishing third, and the Mullins-trained Carter McKay picking up small change after finishing sixth of seven runners, Elliott further stretched his advantage.

With Elliott not represented, Mullins had a chance to end the day on a high in the concluding Weatherbys General Stud Book EBF Mares Flat Race, but Mystic Theatre had to make do with minor honours and 10,000 euro after finishing a close-up second behind Minutestomidnight.

Paddy Power eased Elliott to 30-100 from 2-7 favourite to claim the title. Mullins, who still has plenty of guns to fire, is 9-4 from 5-2.

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