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Elliott's on road to glory

Gordon Elliott is a man for every and any occasion. Famous for winning the Aintree Grand National with Silver Birch, the Trim-based trainer will do whatever has to be done to get winners and could literally be found anywhere on a Sunday, be it a point-to-point in the back-end of nowhere, a Grade One meeting or at a meeting in Britain.

Indeed, even a return to Saratoga, America, is on the cards for the trainer, who has dominated proceedings at Perth in recent seasons, and with a good three months remaining in the season has already surpassed -- and almost doubled -- his target from flag fall.

"You have to travel the way things are going," Elliott told the Herald. "A lot of the horses we send to England would be running around Ireland finishing sixth or seventh, but the owners are happy to go over, get a winner and a day out."

A former jockey, Elliott enjoyed a successful and certainly educational 12 months under Martin Pipe, who is historically one of the finest jump trainers we have seen, and it was some of Pipe's words of wisdom that have stuck with this proud Meath man.

"When I started training, Martin Pipe told me 'keep yourself in the best class and your horses in the worst', so it's about finding the right races for the horses and that's what I enjoy doing. It's about keeping them winning, that's the most important thing, and hopefully the good ones will come to the top."

Ambitious and dedicated, Elliott is straight-talking and to the point, and his winning attitude is a prominent attribute.

"Winners are all we want but if we can train a winner at Cheltenham then that's what I would like to do now. But we have only been training four years, so if it doesn't happen this year we have a lot of years to do it, but we are getting a better bunch of horses every year.

"We have got great owners, and I have been very lucky with owners, and I have great staff as well that keep the whole thing going, especially when there is so much travelling involved. But we have 52 winners so far this season, so hopefully we can keep it going. When I set out first the aim was for 35 or 40 this season."

One of the most important things about Elliott is undoubtedly his hunger and his race planning, but he is able to enjoy it, and working at his Capranny Stables is enjoyable for the loyal staff he has, which bodes well for the success he is currently able to enjoy.

The trainer's extremely common use of the word 'we' -- when referring to his stable's operation -- is a clear sign of how much he appreciates the team effort put in to make the whole thing as successful as it is proving, and he is hopeful of rounding off a successful year with that prestigious Cheltenham Festival winner.

"We have got a couple of horses for the handicaps, we have Carlito Brigante, possibly Grey Soldier and Jessies Dream, so we could have four or five nice horses to go over there with if we keep them healthy between now and then."

Be it Saratoga, Dundalk, Punchestown, Perth or a point-to-point field in Longford, there is no stone left unturned. Expect more expectations to be exceeded from a man with a very nice team of horses and a very bright future.

Bacher Boy

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Was placed over Christmas on ground that he would hate, and then I ran him back over 2m and it was too short for him. He's on a break now and when he's back in the spring and the summer he will win plenty of races. Will jump a fence in time.

Backstage

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Great horse who is owned by the lads in the yard and is third favourite for the Grand National at the moment. We will start him off in a novice hurdle there in two or three weeks' time, and he has jumped around Aintree and I think he could be an ideal horse for there. He jumped around there before; he's strong and he is well so we are looking forward to it. I think we are going there with a solid chance, he won the Perth Gold Cup and the big handicap at Ffos Las and we've been training him for Aintree since then. He has the experience having been around the track before and with a bit of luck in running he could be bang there. Hopefully, if Noel Meade doesn't have anything in it we will have Paul Carberry on his back -- he's a genius around Aintree.

Ballylanigan

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Won three point-to-points, has been placed over fences and over hurdles and he is back in now, and will have no problem winning a couple of races in his own class over the summer. He jumps well and stays well.

Barcardero

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He won a chase on St Stephen's Day and was placed a few times over hurdles. They went a bit quick for him early on in Ffos Las when I brought him over and he got into a sulk. He's a horse in his own class who will win a couple but just things didn't go right for him the last day.

Cape Secret

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Is a nice horse we got out of Ralph Beckett's a couple of years ago and got injured. He had a couple of injuries but he's back now and has to have good ground. If we can keep him sound he is another horse who is well capable of winning over the summer and he is very unexposed with no miles on the clock. He is a horse you could see at the festivals here like Killarney and Galway. He's certainly got ability if we can keep him sound but that's his biggest problem.

Baletto

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Another mare with very good form on the flat, she came from the sales last year but she pulled a muscle up high and we ended up leaving her off and missing the year, but she's back now and is at 100pc. She looks great and will run on the flat and over hurdles, and she's a nice mare.

Carlito Brigante

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Won the juvenile hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas. We bought him after he won at Musselburgh; he's a very idle horse that doesn't do a whole lot at home but when he gets to the racecourse he shows and awful lot more. He might go to Leopardstown on the February 7 or else to Musselburgh on the same day for a Grade Two Triumph Hurdle trial -- wherever we get the nicer ground. He will go for the Triumph Hurdle and, I tell you, he will love the Helter Skelter and the running of the race. He will jump a fence in time and is a nice horse. He is a horse that wouldn't handle soft ground at all though.

Chicago Grey

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Has improved an awful lot and has been a great horse for us. He beat Mourad at Thurles and he has come out and won since. He won't have too many more runs this season but will have an entry in the Coral Cup. I will speak to the owner about that but, whatever he does this season, when he goes jumping fences he will be a proper horse and he is going to win a lot of races over fences.

Definite All Star

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Won his bumper in Musselburgh for us and he had a great run in Leopardstown over Christmas in a maiden hurdle where he finished sixth, and Puyol was only four or five lengths in front of him. Again he likes a nice surface, and he goes to Ffos Las on Thursday and I would be very disappointed if he doesn't win. I know the ground will still be good to soft over there but it's not heavy like it is here. The better the ground the better he will be, and he will be a horse for Fairyhouse and Punchestown.

Dirar

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Won three for us during the summer, he won a 1m4f nice handicap in Wolverhampton before Christmas and he is on a break now. We will probably train him for the Galway Hurdle. He's not over-big but he is a little tiger and is a very tough horse, and he has a massive heart. He will probably run a couple of times on the flat and maybe once over hurdles before Galway.

Dr Kildare

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Won for us in Down Royal and has been placed a couple of times. Is another horse that needs good ground, and he's fit and ready to run, but its just about finding the ground for him. He has got a nice mark over hurdles and should win on the flat.

Falcon Island

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Won a bumper for us in Listowel last year and ran a great race at Navan finishing third after that. He ran over Christmas and came home not right, but he will go for a maiden hurdle in about three weeks and with a bit of luck he should go very close.

Forever Emo

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Won a point-to-point last year and fell at Navan when he was going to be third this year. He will be a nice horse who will win a few 3m chases in his own class.

Grey Soldier

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We think an awful lot of him: I think he is a proper horse. He met a machine on Sunday in Rite Of Passage and he put it up to him, he gave him a run for it down to the last, so I think he is a horse that is improving and I think he will improve for that run again, but he is a horse that has a lot of class. There could be a big one in him before the end of the season. To be honest whether we go to Cheltenham this year or not I don't know, maybe next year when he's a year stronger, we will see how he progresses. He could be a horse we keep and go to Aintree this year for the flatter course, as he has a lot of speed. He is a horse that, with a bit of luck, could go the whole way to the top, and we think an awful lot of him. So, touch wood, if he stays sound we will be looking forward to him and he could be anything.

Hearthstead Dream

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Has been a great horse for his owner over the years. Hearthstead decides the day he is going to do it. He will win one this year but just telling you the day is the problem. He works well at home but is obviously getting on in age, and he looks after himself and knows more about the game than anybody.

Hoopy

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Won around Cheltenham for us last year and we ran him at Leopardstown over Christmas and he got left at the start, and Jason (Maguire) held up his hands straight away when he came in. He wouldn't have won but he probably should have been placed. We will put a line through that run and he is on a break now, when he comes back he will go for a nice little hurdle race when the ground dries up because he is well handicapped over hurdles. We are training him for the Irish National and with a bit of luck we will get him there in one piece, and I think he could run a big race in it.

Jessies Dream

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He was third on only his second run over fences in a Grade Two on Saturday and I would say he will improve from the run. A longer trip and better ground, he will be a better horse, but we were happy with the run and he will go for a beginners' now in the next couple of weeks. He is a horse there could be a good pot in at the likes of Fairyhouse and Punchestown. He is entered in the RSA at Cheltenham but will more than likely stay at home, but he will have entries for Cheltenham so we will see what happens, but he is a horse I think a lot of.

Jubilant Note

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Is a new addition to the yard as Mick Murphy has given up training. He is a real summer campaigner who needs quick ground. His form is good and he will be a nice horse to have during the summer and we are still learning about the horse. He could be one to go to America with -- he was due to go last year but it didn't work out.

Justified

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He's an old-timer really but his form was real good a couple of years ago and Eammon Sheehy did a great job with him, but the owners decided they'd just try somewhere different and see what happens, and see if a change of scenery might liven him up. He's working away well and he's in good nick so you will probably see him out in the next three or four weeks.

Lady Roberta

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She's a nice mare, she was second for us on her first run since joining us at Clonmel. She needs a trip and a galloping track. She's in Ffos Las tomorrow and if she gets in she will go there. She gets a seven-pound mares' allowance over there and she should take beating. She's a mare that should win plenty of races.

Lydon House

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A long-distance stayer, he won a couple for us last year hunters chasing and a few point-to-points. He goes to Punchestown for the National Trial on Sunday but its his first run of the season and he is a horse we will be aiming for the Ulster National, and them sort of long distance races. He's a slow horse but stays very well and is handicapped ok.

Mcmurdo Sound

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He's been a great horse for us, he won a couple in the summer and was second in Cheltenham on his last run. He is another horse that needs nice ground so we let him off after that and he will be back for a spring-summer campaign. He'll run on all codes and is a horse should be well able to pay for himself during the summer.

Meath All Star

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Won for us in Ffos Las the last day when we stepped him up to 2m6f. He won very well and was very impressive so he might have another run in a novice hurdle and then go for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Race at Cheltenham if the handicapper is ok to him. I worked for Martin Pipe and it's a race I would like to win and Keith (Donoghue) is a good lad and he'd ride him. He's improved a lot for his race and he's in good nick.

Millrock Lady

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She's a mare that had her first run for us on Sunday in Limerick. The ground was very soft and Shane (McCann) didn't knock around because it was so soft, but she's a mare that is tough and she will be well capable of winning a few races when she gets a bit of nicer ground and 2m4f.

Nedzer's Return

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Nedzer is a great horse for us. He won a point-to-point for us last year and an uncle of mine owns him. He was second in Tinahealy and goes to Longford on Sunday before he goes to the track. He's a horse you will see in Perth all summer and he will be well capable of winning a couple of hurdles and chases.

Our Aodh

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Has been placed in two bumpers for us. Is a nice horse, and he'll probably go jumping hurdles for us and will be a nice horse in the spring. He will be a better horse next year.

Present Gesture

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A good tough mare, we gave her her first run back of the season at Leopardstown over Christmas in a hot race but she's not badly handicapped and when we get 3m on nice ground she is a mare that will win a race, and we will probably jump fences next year and hopefully pick up some black type this year.

Riverscape

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Is a mare that works very well at home. She got sore shins last year and we have to ease off on her. But she was third on her first run over hurdles at Punchestown. She's back working well and we are just looking for somewhere with a bit of decent ground. She'll probably travel to the UK as well.

Roi Du Mee

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A very nice horse owned by Gigginstown who won first time out for us in Gowran on heavy ground. I ran him back to quick over Christmas and he ran a bit flat but Joey (Elliott) didn't knock him around. He will have only another run or two this year and he will be a lovely horse to run over fences next year. He's still only a shell of a horse but is a horse that will pay for himself throughout the year.

Salford City

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Has been a great horse for us, he was won plenty of races for us and won plenty of prize money. He is another horse that will be coming back in a couple of weeks. He barely gets 2m and has to have quick ground, and with the good weather he is well capable of winning another couple of chases. I might go back to America with him this year.

Serpentaria

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Was a good horse for Willie Mullins last year; she just wasn't right for us on her first few runs so we gave her a break and she's back in now and working well. All her form is good in the spring so she seems to be better with a bit of sun on her back and she'll run when the ground picks up again.

Silver Birch

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Silver Birch put us on the map. He's been a great horse for us winning the National, he's been placed a couple of times since and won a point-to-point so it would be nice to get him back to win on the track. His plan is to go to Punchestown on Saturday for the Cross Country Race, then onto Cheltenham for the same and back to Aintree then. Once he comes home in one piece is the main thing, he doesn't owe us anything and has been a great horse. We certainly won't be abusing the horse and if he was to get to the La Touche at Punchestown in April, and was to run well, we would probably think about retiring him then.

Supreme All Star

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He is a horse that will be competing in a few little handicaps in England. In his own class he should be able to win over there.

The Dotted Line

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He had a good first run back for us in Navan a couple of weeks ago when he finished fourth, and he finished seventh at Leopardstown on Sunday, which was a good run because he got too much light in the race and was far too keen. I will be disappointed if he can't win two or three over fences for us in the summer, and he has had his wind operation so the good ground should still suit him.

The Flying Pencil

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Is a big old-fashioned Luso horse. He won his point-to-point in Tinahealy well and he is due to run in the maiden hurdle at Navan today. He is a nice horse and I expect him to run a big race at Navan -- a nice horse, he's got an engine and can gallop.

Top Mark

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He has won over hurdles, won over fences and has been placed on the flat, and is now back in for a summer campaign. There are a couple of races left in him yet but he is getting to the top of the handicapper and is a summer horse.

Valley Of Giants

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Is another who came to us for a change of scenery, he also knows a lot about the game but should be capable of winning a handicap hurdle over 3m during the summer at some stage.

Wikaala

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Has been a great horse for his owners, he has won on the flat and over hurdles, and is placed nearly every time he runs. If every horse in the yard was as consistent as him I would be delighted. He never runs a bad race and there are a couple of nice races in him. He will jump fences in the new season.