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Saturday 10 December 2016

Track Talk: Elliott's numbers game is working

Trainer Gordon Elliott
Trainer Gordon Elliott

Last Thursday Gordon Elliott sent out 12-runners across two meetings and ended up celebrating seven winners. A fantastic feat regardless of the time of year.

Elliott will dominate a lot of column inches in the depths of winter when the days are short and jump racing is at its finest, but he hasn't abandoned the strategy that has helped him become the the leading trainer in this country bar Willie Mullins.

Elliott won an Aintree Grand National when he could still count on one hand the number of winners he had in total and that was undoubtedly a springboard that anyone who takes out a trainer's licence would kill for.

But Elliott's approach to finding the right opportunities for the right horses paid dividends when he was building his stock and is still paying dividends to this day.

His raids across the water to tracks like Perth are not as common as they once were but as last week showed, he is still prepared to make the journey if he thinks he can return with a winner.

The majority of horses running in jump races at this time of year wouldn't be the most valuable or sought after in the sport.

opportunities

But they mean a lot to those who are paying the bills and what is most important to their owners is that they find winning opportunities. It's fair to say the Meath trainer is a master at that.

Elliott left Perth's two-day meeting last week with six winners and had a few days earlier made his first journey to Cartmel to watch one of his string win there too.

In the winter he has the horses to travel to the more glamours British tracks such as Cheltenham for some of the more valuable races under the jumping code but with a new barn being constructed at his state of the art and self built yard, as well as new schooling facilities, this is a man that is aiming to send out seven winners on a busy Sunday in November in bigger races and not just at Bellewstown and Perth in the summer.

Now one of Michael O'Leary's leading trainers, Elliott will have a big say in the point-to-point world this autumn, winter and spring, he'll make his mark with the likes of Don Cossack and co in the top graded company at the height of the National Hunt season but he'll also find the opportunities in the summer months as we saw already and the key to him is that he is realistic.

After being questioned last week about being champion trainer this season he admitted he didn't have a chance of dismantling Willie Mullins from the top of the pile.

What Elliott is doing is putting himself in a position that whenever the day comes that Willie Mullins isn't our champion trainer, that it will indeed be nobody else only Gordon Elliott.

Another man who is developing a good profile for himself in the training ranks and perfecting the art of scrolling through the planner is Adrian Keatley.

A man with loads of experience, having been involved with some of Oliver McKiernan's biggest successes, and having spent time with Australia's leading trainer, Chris Waller, Keatley sent one runner to Ayr on Sunday which won and three on Monday, when two won and the other was second.

Keatley is six winners from 13 runners at Ayr alone and he looks like a man that is worth taking note of when making a raid across the Irish Sea. And with four winners in Ireland this season from a small string, you can only see him going on to bigger and better things.

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