herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Elliott's open house is a real positive move

Over 400 people took the opportunity to go to Gordon Elliott's open morning last Sunday and none would have left disappointed.

Elliott announced himself on the scene when winning the Aintree Grand National with Silver Birch in 2007 before he had even saddled a winner in Ireland and since then he has just continued to go from strength to strength.

Now, the former amateur rider trains an army of horses for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and also has JP McManus and Barry Connell amongst his owners.

Some of those in attendance were visiting a working racing yard for the very first time and others with plenty of experience and may even have trained themselves were left in awe of his purpose-built yard that houses over 80 horses.

Elliott's quality has upped a notch each season and this coming one should be no different and despite not getting any of his top jumpers out yet due to our Indian summer, which has the ground quicker than ideal, Elliott was still celebrating his quickest-ever 50 winners in a season and that will set the tone for what is ahead before the Punchestown Festival brings the jump season to a close in April no doubt.

All credit has to go to Elliott and his staff for organising Sunday morning's open day and there was plenty of work involved for it to run off so well, it is always such a huge shame however that more trainers don't follow suit.

Regularly followers of GAA teams can go to open training sessions in the lead-up to All-Ireland finals, soccer and rugby teams are also known to have open sessions for supporters and even at last week's Ryder Cup you could buy tickets for the practice sessions to get close to the action.

Horses are different, in that they have minds of their own and can be used to a system which doesn't involve big crowds and they wouldn't be all that familiar with having a lot of people popping up out of nowhere, but Elliott undoubtedly showed last weekend that once a big yard like his can run one so successfully, that it is feasible for any of our leading trainers

In fairness to the organisers of Irish Champions Weekend, they ran the Curragh Trail, which provided a similar insight, and hopefully this a trend that will continue.

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