NO doubt Gordon Elliott was hailed like an All-Ireland winning hero by his fellow Royal County natives when he entered the Meath GAA/Bective Stud pavilion at day’s end at Fairyhouse on Sunday having sent out two other winners in addition to his Grade 1 double.
In the Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase (Grade B) over three miles, five furlongs, Elliott saddled the first two home.
Jordan Gainford claimed the honours on Pioneer Racing’s Punitive (9/2) while Jack Kennedy had to settle for second with the 4/1 favourite, Fakiera.
The latter had raced more prominently than his stable-companion who came from off the pace to win by two and a half lengths.
“Maybe it was for luck that he went early in the Troytown (unseated his rider at the fifth),” mused Elliott. “The conditions and the trip suited him (today) and it was a good performance. The second ran well also. I suppose the Thyestes would be the target for the winner, he’ll get soft ground there.”
A three-time hurdle winner when trained by Henry de Bromhead, Punitive was purchased for just £4,000 by Elliott and Mouse O’Ryan at Goffs UK’s horses in training sale at Doncaster in September.
In contrast, Better Days Ahead, who brought up the Elliott four-timer in the concluding Bar One Racing Giving Cash Back Daily pro-am bumper, was a £350,000 purchase by Elliott for owners Bective Stud at the Cheltenham Festival Sale in March.
The Milan gelding went to the Prestbury Park sale as a Lisronagh maiden winner on his sole start between the flags and the four-year-old started as 1/3 favourite when finishing second on his only previous outing for his new connections in the three-runner bumper won by Carnfunnock at Down Royal early last month.
On Sunday, when faced with four rivals and, as in November, ridden by Jamie Codd, Better Days Ahead led a furlong down and went away to score by three and a quarter lengths from the Willie Mullins-trained favourite, and longtime leader, Chapeau De Soleil, who was making his track debut.
The second contest on the eight-race card, the Grade 3 Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle was dominated by Mullins who saddled four of the 10 runners, including the first two home.
Here, Susannah Ricci’s Lossiemouth (3/1), who was making her Irish debut under the trainer’s nephew Danny Mullins, saw off her stable-companion, the Paul Townend-partnered 5/4 favourite, Zarak The Brave, by a comfortable four lengths.
The successful Great Pretender grey, who is out of a winning Gentlewave half-sister to Lord Glitters, won a three-year-old fillies’ hurdle at Auteuil in April on her only start for Yannick Fouin. While she jumped well throughout, Lossiemouth sealed victory here with a flyer at the final flight.
“She came with a good reputation from France and had been working nicely at home,” said the filly’s trainer. “Danny said he could have gone with her at any time and that she is very scopey.”
Another of the Mullins clan, Emmett, saddled his fourth winner from just five runners in eight days when the Donagh Meyler-ridden Merlin Giant, who was prominent throughout, landed the two-mile Baroneracing.Com Handicap Hurdle (Grade A) by two and a half lengths.
Antoinette Mee’s five-year-old Camelot gelding will probably get a break now, having picked up €59,000 for his connections, and be aimed at the Galway Hurdle next summer when he may also run on the flat.
Gordon Elliott wasn’t the only Meath trainer to get on the scoreboard on Sunday as the in-form Gavin Cromwell saddled the winner of the opening Bar One Racing mares’ handicap chase, the Luke Dempsey-ridden Malina Girl (5/1).
That five-year-old daughter of Malinas, who had finished third over three miles, one furlong at Cheltenham on her previous start, runs in the colours of the Pique Syndicate, many of whom have been longterm supporters of the trainer.
“She ran a cracker at Cheltenham the last day,” said Cromwell. “The soft ground brought her stamina into play today and she is some mare to jump. She’s only a small, little mare who cost us just €7,000 across the road here (at Tattersalls Ireland) in August 2020.”
Out of an unraced Westerner half-sister to Alpha Ridge, Malina Girl has amassed over €50,000 in win and place prize money and has also earned €15,000 in bonuses and won a €10,000 sales voucher for connections.