It appeared to be a feat that was going to stand for longer than three years, but Gordon Elliott soon wrote himself into Cheltenham folklore with a magnificent haul of eight winners from last year’s event.
The Irish trainer equalled Willie Mullins’ effort which was set in 2015, and he’ll be looking for similar success ahead of Cheltenham Festival 2019.
Elliott has seven runners in the Gold Cup alone, with JLT Novices’ Chase winner Shattered Love amongst the contenders.
With the festival just eight weeks away, we take a look back at Elliott’s brilliant yield from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
The second day of the festival saw Elliott clinch a hat-trick of wins, with Samcro first off the mark with victory in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. Elliott admitted he was disappointed after drawing a blank on day one with Apple Jade, but credited Samcro’s win as his highlight of the week.
“I’d have to say Samcro was the main one. There was more pressure on him than on Don Cossack to win the Gold Cup (2016). Thankfully he delivered.
“He lost a shoe, he stumbled going across the road and a few different things happened, but I thought it was a very good performance.
“If you don’t put pressure on yourself you shouldn’t be doing it. Cheltenham is the Olympics and you need winners. Thankfully we had a few.”
Tiger Roll was the next winner for Gordon, winning the Glenfarclas Chase by two lengths from Urgent de Gregaine. The versatile eight-year-old was rarely in trouble throughout the three mile, six furlong track.
Victory for Veneer Of Charm in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle capped off Elliott’s unrivalled second-day success, but the 33/1 shot didn’t make for easy viewing, after wobbling with the posts in sight but held firm to win.
It was almost like déjà vu for Elliott on day three, picking up another treble of victories with Shattered Love getting the ball rolling. The mare was victorious in the JLT Novices’ Chase which gave owners Gigginstown House Stud more success, after Samcro and Tiger Roll the day previous.
Delta Work was the next victor in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap, winning by a nose over Glenloe at odds of 6/1 after being heavily backed from 9/1 prior to the race. Naturally, Elliott was delighted with the outcome after a tight race: “It has been great day and the horses are flying. I think Glenloe was a bit unlucky because he missed the last and, had he jumped it, he probably would have won.
“To have the first and second in a race like that is unbelievable. I am very lucky with the staff I have along with the owners and the horses.”
Completing Elliott’s sixth win and 20th overall at the festival was The Storyteller, who won in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase as 5/1f. The Irish thoroughbred faced a late push from Splash of Ginge but jockey Davey Russell made sure The Storyteller was first between the posts.
The final day of Cheltenham Festival saw Elliott pick up his remaining two winners, and land himself a place in the record books at the same time.
Farclas made it seven winners for Elliott when he won the JCB Triumph Hurdle, beating two of Mullins’ entries in the process (Mr Adjudicator and Sayo).
Then it was time for Elliott’s crowning moment, after Blow By Blow won the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. The seven-year-old made all the running to make it an unprecedented eight winners for the week.
“He got a soft lead and fair play to the horse [Blow By Blow], he was a Grade One winner. He looked well-handicapped, but I thought the ground was too soft for him,” Elliott told the Sporting Life.
“What a week – to have eight winners. I can’t believe it. We can enjoy it now.”