Gerri Colombe and Jack Kennedy won at Down Royal today. Alamy Stock Photo

Down Royal five-timer on a spectacular weekend for Gordon Elliott

The trainer saddled 13 winners across Friday and Saturday.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Nov 2023

GORDON ELLIOTT ENJOYED another good day at the office as the trainer claimed the first five races at Down Royal.

Elliott arrived on a high having sent out six winners at the track on Friday and he picked up where he left off in the opening Lisburn And Castlereagh City Council 3-Y-O Hurdle, with Jack Kennedy and 1-4 favourite Wodhooh hitting the target.

The filly is a former Flat performer and has won twice over hurdles since joining Elliott from Sir Michael Stoute, with this success likely to lead to a step up in grade.

Next was the turn of Down Memory Lane, a JP McManus-owned five-year-old who had a point-to-point and a bumper victory under his belt as he came into his hurdles debut the 2-7 favourite.

Under Derek O’Connor, the gelding won by three lengths despite a less than fluent jump at the last in the Tayto Group Maiden Hurdle.

“Derek was very happy but it wasn’t a wonderful race on paper, so you would be disappointed if he didn’t do that. I liked what I saw there,” Elliott said.

“We’ll get him home and see how he is and make a plan, I think we’ll stick to two miles at the moment.

“He has loads of boot and Derek seemed to be fairly happy, and he doesn’t say much, so he looks a good one.”

The Listed Haslem Hotel Handicap Hurdle was then won by Magic Tricks and Carl Millar, a two-length triumph at odds of 5-1.

Gerri Colombe obliged in the feature Ladbrokes Champion Chase. Gordon Elliott’s gelding was one of a top-class field of four contesting the Grade One, with Elliott and Henry de Bromhead each responsible for two horses.

The quartet travelled as a group for much of the race and turning for home any one of them could have gone on to win, though Minella Indo was the first to fold and Gerri Colombe switched sharply from one side of the track to the other.

Conflated and Envoi Allen were left to jump the last in unison and it looked as though the latter horse may have the advantage, but Gerri Colombe was steadily gaining ground on the outside and just got his head in front to prevail under Jack Kennedy as the 4-7 favourite.

Elliott said: “We were delighted with him – we knew there would be improvement in him today, his first run in open company.

“As Brian (Acheson, of owner Robcour) said, he only came back in on September 19, so there’s loads of improvement.

“We’ll have one run now and then the Gold Cup. He showed that he is in the mix now for the Gold Cup, he stays very well and that’s what you need.”

Gerri Colombe has suffered just one defeat under rules, when edged out in last season’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Elliott added: “We were all gutted coming out of Cheltenham last year, it just didn’t happen for us on the day but, in fairness to Brian, he said ‘we will be back here in 12 months time’.

“Willie’s horse (Mullins, Galopin Des Champs) is very, very good but this horse has a great attitude and, as I said, he is only back in eight weeks. That’s why I think three miles and two furlongs is going to suit him perfectly.”

Elliott scored for a final time on the card as Kennedy and Ash Tree Meadow won a two-runner renewal of the Grade Two Chase as the 8-15 favourite.

“We didn’t put him in the John Durkan. We will probably give him a break now as he has been in all summer and we will train him back for some of the Grand Nationals next year,” Elliott said.

“I could run him in the Grand National (at Aintree) in the spring. We were going to go to the American Grand National with him, but he is a French-bred and couldn’t go with his bloods.”

Elliott also sent out two winners at Gowran, taking his tally over the two days to 13.

He added: “A great day but, as I said before, I am very lucky with the horses I have and all the staff. I’m delighted for all the owners too.”

Press Association