Fabulous Fayonagh puts Elliott firmly in the title driving seat
After a performance that will stick in the memory from Champion Bumper winning-mare Fayonagh, Gordon Elliott was a man in demand at Punchestown with many hailing the performance as a title decider.
After a quick interview with RTE television before nipping off to collect his prize - and more importantly a first-place cheque worth €59,000 - the 39-year-old trainer batted away questions of landing a first title here on Saturday, just as he has done all season.
“Look, whatever happens we will enjoy tonight and we have had a great season,” was Elliott’s response to being asked if Fayonagh’s victory moved him ever closer to that elusive first title.
The performance was something special. After fluffing her lines at the start at Cheltenham, Fayonagh came through the field to collar Debuchet in the dying strides but there was no need for such dramatics on Wednesday as the mare become only the third horse to complete the Grade 1 double.
Sent into the lead from flagfall, Fayonagh made all to assert close to the finish and had too many guns for Paloma Blue back in second, while Poli Roi ran a respectable race for the Elliott stable a further seven lengths behind in third.
Elliott added: “She is a buzzy little thing at home and we don’t gallop her much. She’s a nice mare and I would expect that she will be put away to enjoy a nice holiday and we will bring her back to go jumping next year.
“The plan was to ride her in the first two or three at Cheltenham but she just missed the start and there was nothing we could do about it. She’s a fair one and I wouldn’t mind having a few more like her.”
The win pushed Elliott ever closer to a first trainer’s title and didn't do Jamie Codd's title challenge any harm either by providing him a cushion of four winners over nine-time champion Patrick Mullins.
Codd said: “She is just exceptional. She has beaten the boys twice now and today was probably her best performance.
“I was always confident that she was going to win today and she has showed everybody just how good she is.”
Codd, who went on to stretch his lead over Mullins to five when winning on Minutestomidnight in the concluding bumper, added: "I will just keep going until Saturday.
"I wouldn’t be saying anything until it’s in my hand but I will keep battling all the way to the finish.”
Paddy Power introduced Fayonagh as the 5-1 favourite for the mares’ novice hurdle at Cheltenham next season.