Elliott Overcomes Mullins to Win Leading Trainer Award



The battle between trainers Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins dominated much of the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival last month, with the former eventually getting the better of his compatriot thanks to six winners in the South-East of England. The Meath-based handler also gained three second-placed finishes, as well as three thirds, to edge out Mullins whose six winners, two seconds and four thirds were not quite enough for another title at Prestbury Park.

Elliott had looked nailed-on after just two days, with five winners before Mullins had even registered his first success. However, the situation changed quickly when both Arctic Fire and Penhill won, in the County Hurdle and Albert Bartlett respectively, with little to choose between the duo among the bookmakers. However, Elliott once again drew level with success in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle with Champagne Classic, which was enough to give him the title on countback. With the iconic Grand National from Aintree coming up, Elliott will be looking to nine-year-old Ucello Conti to challenge in Liverpool, with sports betting brand Betway Sports offering him as one of the favourites at 16/1 (odds correct as of 15:00 on 03/04/2017).

Mullins had been the best trainer at Cheltenham for the past four years before the recent event, however the Irishman suffered as a result of a whole host of injuries, as well the departure of the Gigginstown stud horses from his stables. Ruby Walsh will be hoping to lead Pleasant Company to victory for Mullins, with the nine-year-old heading a small squad that is heading to the North of England this week.

With former favourite Thistlecrack having already been ruled out for trainer Colin Tizzard, along with a whole host of strong candidates, the news that Carlingford Lough and Foxrock will miss out at Aintree is yet more disappointing news for fans. Two-time Irish Gold Cup winner Carlingford Lough, trained by John Kiely, will now run in either the Irish National or the Punchestown Gold Cup, meaning that last year’s runner-up The Last Samuri now has the top weight of 11st 10lb. The Kim Bailey trained superstar is offered odds of 14/1 by Betway to go one better than this time last year (odds correct as of 15:00 on 03/04/2017).

Definitly Red, trained by Brian Ellison, is now the favourite for Saturday’s race, who many believe has the best chance of taking over from Rule The World at the top of the racing game. The Grimthorpe Chase Winner is now priced at just 10/1 with Betway (odds correct as of 15:00 on 03/04/2017), with the likes of Cause Of Causes and More Of That not far behind in the running in the build up to the race. Jockey Danny Cook has already claimed success aboard one of the north’s top chasers over Grand National style fences, meaning that Ellison holds strong hopes of competing, having seen his previous runner, Neptune Equester, finish 13th back in 2012.