Super six for Elliott at Navan
Gordon Elliott sent out six of the seven winners at local track Navan, throwing down the gauntlet in the Irish trainers' championship title race.
Three Swallowsnick and jockey Jamie Codd celebrate with grooms from Gordon Elliott's Cullentra House Stables after their sixth winner at Navan.
The Cullentra handler began the afternoon almost €400,000 clear of perennial champion Mullins, albeit having saddled over 400 more runners since the season began, but these successes saw him extend the advantage in style, helped by a large number of runners throughout the card.
Bookmakers Sky Bet responded by cutting Elliott to 7/4 to become champion in Ireland for the first time. The firm had originally offered 5/6 the pair about the rivals when news first broke of the transfer of 60 horses owned by Gigginstown out of Mullins' yard, Elliott being the principal beneficiary.
Support for Mullins the weeks afterward saw his odds steadily shrink to 1/3, but although the champion struck with Min in the only race not won by Elliott on the card, Mullins' grip on Irish racing does now seem weaker than has been the case for several years.
"It was one of those days where I thought we'd plenty of chances, but to have six winners is just unbelievable," said Elliott.
"When everything is going so well you hope that things work out and it's great.
"Any day you have a winner is great but to have six on one card, I can't believe it. I had seven winners in a day before between Bellewstown and Perth, but not like this.
"We'll enjoy it today. I have a great bunch of staff and good owners but I'll keep my feet on the ground and hopefully let the results do the talking."
Elliott had struck first with a surprise winner Brelade, who claimed top honours in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle as the Mullins-trained Battleford proved highly disappointing.
Having been narrowly beaten into second in both the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and the equivalent contest at Aintree last spring, Battleford was unsurprisingly all the rage to make a winning start to his jumping career under Rules as the 1/3 favourite in a 30-runner field.
The five-year-old travelled well enough for a long way, but was in trouble before the home turn and eventually finished a well-beaten fourth.
Brelade, an 11/1 shot for Elliott after opening his account at the fourth attempt in a Naas bumper three weeks ago, was given a confident ride by Jack Kennedy and after cruising into contention in the straight, a big jump at the final flight proved crucial as he got the better of Joey Sasa by a neck.
The trainer said: "He's a nice horse and wants a bit further. We'll step him up in trip now.
"It's great for Jack as that's his first winner since he came back from injury."
Ruby Walsh said he "wouldn't be too despondent" over Battleford's defeat, adding: "If you look at the way he was running in bumpers, you'd probably stay he wanted a trip, and with hindsight this probably wasn't a big enough test for him."
After notching his second winner with Death Duty(11/10 favourite) in the 'Monksfield' Novice Hurdle, Elliott struck gold for a third time as his runners dominated the finish of the Davis Civil Engineering Handicap Hurdle.
The locally-based trainer saddled four runners in the two-mile contest, with Bryan Cooper, successful aboard Death Duty, partnering 7/1 shot Bull Ride.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner looked the likely winner jumping the final flight, but his stable companion Dawerann (11/1) was flying at the finish for Kennedy and the pair flashed by the post almost as one.
After a brief wait, the judge called Bull Ride the winner by a nose. The 9/2 favourite Concordin was third, with another Elliott runner, Orchard Road, coming home well to grab fourth.
Elliott said: "He (Bull Ride) doesn't show anything at home. We'll keep him to his own grade and he'll be okay.
"Physically, he's a different horse now to the won he was a year ago and he looks like he should jump a fence one day."
Having bagged the Troytown Chase in the meantime with 12/1 shot Empire Of Dirt, Elliott completed a five-timer with Jury Duty in the Proudstown Handicap Hurdle.
The €50,000 contest looked fiercely competitive on paper, but 5/1 joint-favourite Jury Duty was always travelling ominously well under Kennedy and pulled comfortably clear of Scoir Mear. The Crafty Butcher was a big eyecatcher in third.
Elliott said: "He'd a good run (last time) at Punchestown (Festival) when he got there a bit too soon. He travelled very well and its worked out grand.
"He's owned by a great bunch of lads who are near me and all went to school together."
Elliott's day was completed in the concluding Coolmore NH Sires European Breeders Fund Mares Flat Race as Three Swallowsnick kept her unbeaten record intact to make it six on the day for the Cullentra handler.
A dual point-to-point winner and successful on her debut under Rules at Wexford last month, Three Swallowsnick was second best in the market at 13/8 but was ultimately too good for the Mullins-trained 5-4 favourite Glens Harmony, scoring by three lengths.
Successful pilot Jamie Codd said: "She looked a nice mare when she won her two points and I'd say she's got a bright future as a jumper over longer trips than this. She stuck her neck out bravely for me."
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