Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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GORDON ELLIOTT has reiterated his desire to win the Irish National Hunt Trainer’s Championship after coming agonisingly close to winning it for the first time this year.
Elliott appeared set to win the title when still ahead of his nearest rival Willie Mullins going in to the last days’ of the season, but was forced to settle for the runner-up spot when pegged back by the multiple championship-winning trainer during the Punchestown Festival.
Yet the 40-year-old Elliott was quick to focus on the high points of an otherwise tremendous season that included winning eight races at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and posting his second win in the Grand National at Aintree.
Elliott burst into the big time when winning the Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007. He has continued the upward spiral in the intervening years, finishing this season with 210 winners and is hungry for more.
“Now Punchestown is over I have had a chance to reflect on the last year and what a fantastic season we had,” Elliott said.
“Of course I was disappointed to lose out on the title during Punchestown but if you’re going to get beaten by someone you want it to be someone as strong as Willie and to come here for the last two years with even a chance of winning was brilliant.
“I turned 40 this year and I have the rest of my life to chase this dream but I’d hope my turn won’t be far away and I’ll continue to strive for it every year.
“Just some of the highlights this season were winning the Irish National for the first time, the English National for the second time and having eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Also a memorable day for me was winning the Thyestes with Monbeg Notorious, it is a race I have wanted to win for a long time as it was one of the last big handicaps in Ireland we hadn’t won.
“Some of the pressure is off now after Punchestown but we were straight back at it on Monday with six runners at Kilbeggan, registering our first winner for the new season. We have a nice string of summer horses to work away with and some really smart two-year-olds so we will be as busy as ever during the summer months.
“I’d just like to thank my loyal staff who are tantamount to the success of Cullentra, each and every one of them play their role in the running of the yard. I have to mention the likes of my Head Lad Simon McGonagle who has been with me from the start and my top work rider Shane McCann – both of whom have been a huge part of this success.
“Also to thank are all of our owners; many of whom have been with us from the beginning and anyone else who plays a role in the running of Cullentra from our farriers and vets to our suppliers and sponsors.”
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