Elliott: winning trainers' title would be a dream come true
The gloves are off. Cheltenham has been conquered and now Gordon Elliott is ready to knock out Willie Mullins in the Irish trainers' title race too, with the current pacesetter saying such an achievement would be an "honour and a dream come true".
Victory for Champagne Classic – described by Michael O'Leary as the worst horse he owns – in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, sealed a first Cheltenham trainers' title for Elliott and Paddy Power make him a 1-4 shot to win the Irish championship for the first time next month as well.
Elliott has been coy all season when asked about the possibility of him overhauling Mullins, saying he had "no chance" on each occasion he was asked. But as the winning line approaches and with the Fairyhouse and Punchestown festivals around the corner, he has admitted that winning the title would be a longed-for achievement.
"As things stand we are on 176 winners here in Ireland and not a day goes by that I don’t get asked about winning the trainers' title," said Elliott, who has a lead of €404,000 over Mullins.
"After a fantastic Cheltenham and our subsequent 'Super Sunday', the questions are coming thick and fast so I thought it was worth a few lines.
"Being crowned champion trainer would be an honour and a dream come true, but it would be a by-product of the hard work and dedication of our team and more a testament to my owners and staff than me."
He added in his Betfair blog: "Like any other trainer, all I want to do is train winners but if you don’t have the right support it's very difficult, so as we face into the final part of the season our goal is to continue sending out winners, and if my number of winners is more than any other trainer then it will be a massive achievement for me personally, but more importantly for the yard."
Paddy Power believe it is almost a done deal. You can back Mullins at 5-2, while it is 1-3 that Elliott goes on to train 200 or more winners in Ireland this season.
Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: "With Gordon totalling 176 Irish winners already this season, he looks almost certain to break Willie Mullins' record of 193 winners in a campaign. In fact so certain, we make him just 1-3 to train 200 winners, which is a remarkable achievement in anyone’s book."
Irish National Hunt trainers' championship
1-4 Gordon Elliott, 5-2 Willie Mullins (Paddy Power)
Gordon Elliott winners special
1-3 Elliott to train 200 jumps winners in Ireland this season (Paddy Power)