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'We didn't stop any horse running' - Gordon Elliott defends decision to run 14 in Navan's Troytown Chase

Gordon Elliott: had no issues with saddling 14 in the Troytown at Navan
Gordon Elliott: had no issues with saddling 14 in the Troytown at NavanCredit: Patrick McCann

Gordon Elliott has defended his scattergun approach to Sunday's Troytown Chase at Navan, arguing that it helped the race rather than hindered it and stressing there would have been a disappointing single-figure field had he opted to run only one or two instead of the 14 he did.

Coko Beach emerged victorious from that 14-strong squad and Elliott was responsible for four of the first five home with Fakir D'alene in third, Dunboyne fourth and Frontal Assault finishing fifth.

No trainer had ever saddled as many as 14 horses in a single race before, so a world record was completed at Navan, but the make-up of the contest was criticised by many as Henry de Bromhead, Gavin Cromwell, Noel Meade and Colm Murphy were the only other trainers represented.

Speaking about the situation, Elliott said: "We didn't stop any horse running in the race. The race didn't fill and I think if I only run one or two horses then there might have only been eight or nine in the race.

"For a €100,000 race, for Bar One Racing who sponsor the race and for a track like Navan, it would have been embarrassing if there were only eight or nine runners in it."

He added: "All my owners are paying training fees and entry fees and they want to run, so I don't think I have anyone to answer to. All I want to do is do my best for every horse and every owner."

Coko Beach is one of 29 winners for Elliott so far in November. It has been a magnificent month for the Cullentra House trainer, who now leads the Irish trainers' championship with 116 winners and €1,960,405 in prize-money, €477,770 more than 17-time champion Willie Mullins.

Life's a beach: Danny Gilligan and Gordon Elliott with Coko Beach after winning the Troytown Chase
Coko Beach: with Gordon Elliott, Danny Gilligan and Charlotte Crozier after winning the Bar One Racing Troytown Chase at Navan on SundayCredit: Patrick McCann

While admitting he would dearly love to win his first title some day, Elliott said he is not as obsessed with the idea of being champion trainer as he was a couple of years ago.

He said: "If you had asked me about that two or three years ago, all I would have thought about was being champion trainer. My ambition in life is to be champion trainer, but I probably look at life a little differently now to how I used to.

"Winners motivate me. I'm probably selfish and all I care about is training winners. It's not ideal sometimes but I love what I do. I love training winners. I worked for a man called Martin Pipe and he loved it, and I'm probably unfortunate that I was born in the same era as a man called Willie Mullins. Willie makes us all better and hungrier, and I just like to do my best and keep him honest."

Elliott's number one Jack Kennedy is also top of the jockeys' championship with 60 winners already on the board and his employer thinks he has a better chance of going all the way this season compared to other years now that Davy Russell has retired.

Elliott said: "I would love to see Jack be champion jockey and I think it's going to happen some day. Whether that is this year, next year, or the year after I don't know. Just looking at it, he has 60 winners already and I think last year when he had the fall he had 77 winners during the first week in January.

"It looks like he's ahead of last year and it looks like he's in a better position than last year to be honest. Last time he always had to worry about Davy Russell, but now he's first jockey and has the pick of everything. I'm sure it'll be something he'd love to do anyway."

Read these next:

'I thought Gavin's horse was going to do us from the last' - record-setter Gordon Elliott lands sixth Troytown 

Daryl Jacob to ride Bravemansgame in the Betfair Chase as Paul Nicholls confirms plans to run at Haydock 

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David JenningsDeputy Ireland editor

Published on 20 November 2023inIreland

Last updated 19:56, 20 November 2023