Gordon Elliott enjoyed a memorable 2016, proving that he’s likely to give Willie Mullins a run for his money for the foreseeable future. He may have lost the 2016 battle to be Irish Champion Hunt Trainer to Mullins, but he was crowned Champion Trainer at the Cheltenham Festival.
He also won the 2016 Galway Plate, and has a decent looking team to go to war with at the 2017 Galway Festival.
A Toi Phil
Didn’t quite cut it at the top-level over fences last season, but seemed to thrive in handicaps. Likely to be the stable’s number-one for the Galway Plate, a race Elliott won last year with Lord Scoundrel, and the feeling is this 149-rated chaser is better than last year’s now 156-rated winner.
Set to run in the 7.40 on Monday, this horse was quietly-fancied to win at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Fluffed his lines there, but that means he could still have a few pounds in hand for a race that his trainer thinks will suit him ideally. Top amateur Jamie Codd booked, and a big run is expected. Could also try and double-up in the Galway Hurdle later in the week.
It’s All Guesswork
Was always considered a hurdler by Elliott, and his two placed runs in bumpers were just a warm-up for a future career over hurdles and fences. Duly won a maiden hurdle in impressive fashion, and Elliott will be mightily disappointed if he doesn’t go close in the 2½-mile novice hurdle at the meeting.
Likely to head to the Galway Plate in a bid to win back-to-back renewals, but likely to find it much harder this year off a much higher mark. However, can’t be ruled out, though his presence should also make sure that A Toi Phil gets in with a manageable weight.
Having proved that he can do well with horses formerly trained by willie Mullins, Elliott has also proved he’s more than a match for Dermot Weld having trained this former Weld inmate to win two races. Now rated 135-rated, he looks ideally weighted for the Galway Hurdle, and victory for him would be another huge feather in Elliott’s cap. Also won at Galway for Weld.
Another shining example of Elliott’s brilliance, as he’s has won on the flat, over hurdles and over fences for him. Her hurdle rating of 122 suggests that a mark of 74 on the flat is not beyond her and, having won on the flat at last year’s Galway Festival over 2-miles, it is likely that she’ll be aimed at the same race once again.