Samcro stars in Elliott six-timer
Punchestown might have proved an unhappy hunting ground for Gordon Elliott last April when he was overtaken by Willie Mullins in the race to be champion jumps trainer, but the Cullentra supremo reigned supreme at the Co Kildare venue yesterday - winning six of the eight races.
He got the afternoon off to a flyer as the high-class Pallasator (13/8f) won the John Shortt Legends Challenge Race in the hands of Norman Williamson.
Smart bumper performer Samcro then justified 1/5 favouritism on his hurdling debut before Ben Dundee (13/8f) obliged in the November Festival Handicap Hurdle, and Grade One-winning hurdler Death Duty (4/9f) brought up the four-timer when winning for a second time over fences in the Buck House Novice Chase.
Elliott rounded off the day by winning the concluding two races with King's Song (3/1f) and Felix Desjy (11/8f).
"It's a great day," he acknowledged. "Any day you have one winner is great so to have that many winners, I can't believe it. We were having breakfast this morning and Simon (McGonagle) my head man, Mouse (O'Ryan) and Tom Howley said they were doing a Lucky 63. Four of us did it. It only cost 63 quid and we all got a few quid out of it."
Death Duty is favourite with some bookmakers for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham after his fine Grade Three success in the hands of Davy Russell. "I've always thought the world of this horse," said Elliott. "Last year I was of the opinion he probably wanted three miles, but I'd say I might have been wrong, to be honest."
Samcro was even more dominant in the Buy Your 2018 Annual Badge Maiden Hurdle, remaining unbeaten with a 15-length verdict under Jack Kennedy. Elliott remarked: "Job done - we think he's a nice horse. We'll have to look at something like the Royal Bond."
Death Duty, Samcro and Felix Desjy were among four winners on the card for Gigginstown, with Noel Meade's Cheltenham Festival hero Road To Respect making a successful reappearance in the featured Daily Star Chase. The six-year-old won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate at Prestbury Park in March before claiming the scalp of Yorkhill in the Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse
The 7/2 chance responded to Sean Flanagan's urgings to get up and beat the game front-runner Kilcarry Bridge by a length and a half. Last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Minella Rocco was only fourth.
The Co Meath handler also saddled the other winner on the card not trained by Elliott in the shape of Lex Talionis (12/1), which finished strongly under Flanagan to pip Champagne Pat by a head in the two-mile handicap hurdle.