Elliott stocks up on yearlings at Tatts Ireland
Gordon Elliott with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack
PICTURE: Sam Lawrie Elliott stocks up at Tatts Ireland September Sale
By Caoimhe Doherty 11:40AM 22 SEP 2016
THE reigning Gold Cup king Gordon Elliott might be many people's idea of a champion jumps trainer in waiting, but his breakthrough Royal Ascot success with Commissioned last June has led to his agreeing to take on a batch of up to ten yearlings for next year's Flat campaign.
Elliott, whose roots are in the point-to-point community and who burst on to the scene courtesy of Silver Birch's memorable 2007 Grand National triumph, was on holiday in Barbados when Commissioned landed the Queen Alexandra Stakes under Adam Kirby.
However, Nick Bradley, who heads the syndicate that owns Commissioned, devised a plan with Elliott's bloodstock agent Aidan O'Ryan to plot a route back to the royal fixture, and Elliott is the man charged with overseeing the ambitious project.
Bradley has described the initiative as a "commercial venture" that could grow, although Elliott, who has in recent months added the Galway Plate and Kerry National to his growing list of big-race conquests, was keen to stress his focus remains primarily on the jumps.
Indeed, while Bradley and O'Ryan were acquiring yearlings at Tattersalls Ireland's September Sale on Wednesday, the trainer was at Perth on another of his raids at the picturesque Scottish jumps venue.
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"They approached me after Royal Ascot," explained Elliott, who leads Willie Mullins in the early stages of the domestic jumps championship.
"It'll be another challenge and it's something I'm looking forward to. Obviously I'm mainly a National Hunt man, but we have a lot of staff to keep going now and a lot of good facilities to pay for, so when someone offers you the chance to train up to ten horses for the summer, it's something I couldn't refuse."
Asked if he could envisage switching focus in the long-term Elliott, who scaled jumping racing's highest peak at Cheltenham in March with Don Cossack, was pretty emphatic.
"Definitely not," he said. "National Hunt racing is where my loyalties lie. I'd train a few more Flat horses, but it's not something I'll be doing full-time."
Formerly of the Middleham Park Racing syndicate, Bradley also previously shared the multiple point-to-point winner Backstage with Elliott.
"Commissioned was my first Flat horse under my name, so it was some start," Bradley said from the auction. "We hope to send him eight yearlings in year one and see how we go.
"It's a commercial syndicate, so the people involved will be hoping to get some part of their investment back – we're doing it to make a profit."
Of their budget, Bradley said: "Well, I bid €100,000 on one on Wednesday I didn't get, so there's a few quid in the pot. The plan is to buy colts and fillies who can go over sprint trips and try to get a couple of runners at Royal Ascot again.
"The sprinters are easier to buy and, generally, you don't have to wait around as long for them, so you get a quicker return on your investment hopefully."
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