Impressive Missy Tata helps Elliott hit the 100-winner mark
As Naas racecourse bade farewell to 2016, Gordon Elliott cranked his season up a notch by recording a double, in doing so hitting the 100-winner mark for the Irish jumps season.
It took Elliott until February to achieve the same milestone for the first time last season, and the fact he has reached three figures more than two months earlier confirms he is well on track to enjoying his best season yet.
Missy Tata was brilliant in the feature Grade 3 Fishery Lane Hurdle, so –brilliant she left her handler scratching his head as to whether he would send her over fences this season or continue to make hay over hurdles.
Elliott said: "She's not a bad mare. We were thinking about going jumping fences with her but I'd say she could win plenty of prize money if we kept her over hurdles.
"Keith [Donoghue] gave her a good ride, and that's good for him, so I'm happy. Keith rode his first Graded winner last week and that's his second in a week now."
The century was completed when Baltazar D'Allier confirmed he had a similarly big engine to match his good looks when he sauntered home in the 2m3f maiden hurdle.
"He's still very babyish but he's a very nice horse and he's something to look forward to. He'll be better over fences and should come into his own over the bigger obstacles."
Elliott would have been long odds-on to have celebrated somewhere in County Meath on Saturday evening. The 38-year-old is now 2-1 with Paddy Power to be crowned champion Irish trainer, but in typical fashion he was quick to pour cold water on the possibility.
"You'd want to be a million pound clear heading to Punchestown before you would start thinking like that!"
Easy as 1-2-3 for Gigginstown
Gigginstown House Stud saw its maroon and white jerseys make up the frame in the 2m3f beginners chase with the Noel Meade-trained Road To Respect leading the way.
The five-year-old is closely related to Meade's stable star Road To Riches and had over two lengths to spare over Grade 1-winning hurdler Prince Of Scars, with a further break to General Principle in third.
Meade said: "He's a lovely horse. We were hoping he'd run well but I wasn't saying he was going to win.
"I'll have to wait and see where we slot in now. There's no reason why he wouldn’t run in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse. There were probably good horses there behind him."
Thought for the day
Trainers should take advantage of JJ Slevin's claim before it's too late - the Wexford native won't be claiming 7lb for too much longer. Slevin recorded the first double of his career since turning professional in the summer when scoring on After Aspen in the 2m4f novice handicap chase before dictating the running aboard Fayonagh in the concluding mares' bumper.