Elliott to welcome around 20 Gigginstown horses
Gordon Elliott is looking forward to welcoming around 20 new horses to his yard later today following the shock news Willie Mullins will no longer be training for Gigginstown House Stud.
Ireland's perennial champion trainer announced on Wednesday that the two parties have agreed to go their separate ways after Mullins raised his training fees and Gigginstown, which is run by Ryanair's Michael O'Leary and his brother, Eddie, refused to pay the new rate.
Elliott, who trained Don Cossack to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Gigginstown in March, will be one of the main beneficiaries, with around 20 horses making the journey from Closutton to Cullentra.
Asked when he heard the news, Elliott said: "Just yesterday morning, the same as everyone else. It's obviously nice to get a few new horses, but it was a big shock.
"I was speaking to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) last night, they were very straight with everything and it's a nice opportunity for us.
"The horses are coming just before lunchtime today. I think there's just short of 20 to come, there's a few nice horses and we're looking forward to seeing them."
The County Meath-based trainer said he planned to speak with Mullins over the next few days.
"No one really knows what the ins and outs of the whole thing are, but it does happen – we all lose horses," Elliott told At The Races.
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"You can't refuse them, they're world-class horses and we're in a very lucky position to be getting them."
"I haven't spoken to Willie yet, obviously he's plenty on his hands. I'll speak to him before the weekend, either at the races or I'll give him a ring.
"I'd say Willie is in a position where he's got a lot of horses waiting to come in. He's a genius at what he does and I'm sure he'll be doing his best to keep all his staff. He'll make the right decision."
Among the horses set to join Elliott are Gold Cup third Don Poli and exciting filly Apple's Jade, who was runner-up in last season's Triumph Hurdle before bolting up at Aintree and Punchestown.
Elliott said: "I need to go through the form of all the horses, but Don Poli is obviously very good.
"Willie has done a wonderful job with him and it will be hard to improve him, but if we can keep him at the same level we should have plenty of fun with him.
"She (Apple's Jade) looked very good and obviously she'd be one of the ones you'd be really excited about getting. We need to learn a bit about her."
With an increased string of "around 160 to 165 horses for the track", Elliott looks to have his biggest chance yet of being crowned champion National Hunt trainer in Ireland.
However, he expect Mullins to be a tough nut to crack once again.
He said: "It's something I dream about – someday being champion trainer – but I'm realistic to know that even with Willie losing this number of horses, he's going to be a hard man to beat for a long time.
"He's a wonderful trainer and a nice man, too. I'll be trying hard. It might not happen this year but hopefully it will happen someday."
Henry de Bromhead, Joseph O'Brien, Mouse Morris – who won the Grand National this year with the Gigginstown-owned Rule The World – and Noel Meade are the other trainers reportedly set to receive a share of the ex-Mullins' horses.
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