Wednesday 5 January 2022

Elliott’s Magical Day at Navan

2021 will probably be a year that Gordon Elliott wants to forget. After all, the trainer spent most of the last 12 months under suspension and only managed to get his season going in September. But while he will still face an uphill reputation to rebuild his personal reputation in the media, Elliott can at least look at the success his horses have had in recent weeks and believe he has picked up from where he left off. In fact, the evidence on show at Navan Racecourse on 4th December suggests he might be in an even stronger position. 

Fans at “The Christmas Party Raceday” at Navan saw the first event go off at 11.30 am, with the familiar name of Willie Mullins as winning trainer. However, in the subsequent seven races, Elliott took over with seven winners. It was historic, to say the least. No trainer has ever won seven races on a card before in Ireland. Previously, Elliott and Mullins both had recorded six in one day. 

Seven from Eight for Elliott 

So, who led Elliott to glory? His first win was a mild shock, with The Goffer coming in at 10/1 in the maiden hurdle. The favourite, Fantasio D’Alene, was also trained by Elliott but fell at the 8th. Next up was Ginto (11/8), who promptly took the Grade 2 Navan Novice Hurdle with Jamie Codd in the saddle. A 40/1 shot, Commander of the Fleet, took the Bective Stud Handicap Hurdle. Next, the red-hot 1/4 favourite Riviere D’etal left all trailing in its wake in the Grade 3 Klairon Davis Novice Chase. Farouk D’alene came home next at 7/2 in the Navan Beginners Chase. In the penultimate race of the day, another favourite, Conflated, came in at 9/4. Finally, Jamie Codd wrapped up a great day for Elliott with victory on Itswhatunitesus in the flat race. 

The total odds for the Elliott seven-time were 37,382/1, according to The Sun. Obviously, there were some parallels drawn with Frankie Dettori’s seven winnners at Ascot in 1996. That feat came in somewhere around 25,000/1. It was such a rare event that people are still talking about it 25 years later. There’s even a casino slot, Frankie Dettori’s Magic Seven, which celebrates the event. So, will be talking about Elliott’s magnificent seven in 25 years? It probably won’t be held in the same regard, even if it is a feat that seems unrepeatable. 

Elliott Will See Pathway to Redemption

For a start, this felt more about a question of what comes next for Elliott than an event in and of itself. The trainer’s comments afterward had all suggested that he saw it as a vindication of his talents after spending a long time in the wilderness. It’s understandable that he was relieved to see the media report on something positive regarding the trainer after the controversy that has dogged since the publication of those photos in early 2021. 

Looking forward, Elliott will see success as the best remedy to rebuild his reputation. And, if he keeps training winners, the media will have no choice to focus on that success. The incredible events at Navan will fortify his reputation as one of the best jumps trainers of the 21st century. Elliott will hope that is the main focus of 2022 as he targets big prizes at Cheltenham and beyond.