Elliott forges ahead of Mullins

Gordon Elliott has played down his chances of taking the Irish jumps trainer’s title from perennial champion Willie Mullins despite making history by claiming all three Grade One winners on the big pre-Christmas card at Fairyhouse.

Elliott has made rapid progress in the past couple of years to become a dominant force both in Ireland and Britain, thanks in no small part to the increased support of leading owners Gigginstown House Stud following their well-publicised split with Mullins in 2016.

He led this year’s Irish title race by almost 300,000 euro ($A469,000) heading into day two of the Winter Festival in County Meath on Sunday.

Elliott stretched further ahead by landing the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Mengli Khan), the Hatton’s Grace (Apple Jade) and the Drinmore Novice Chase (Death Duty).

“This is what it’s all about. To train three Grade One winners in one day is unbelievable, it’s something you dream about,” Elliott said.

But Elliott is taking nothing for granted, with memories of last year’s title race – when he looked home and dry heading into the Punchestown Festival only to be denied by a late Mullins charge – still fresh in his mind.

“Willie Mullins is an amazing man and just to be in the parade ring with someone like him is great,” he said.

“Last year was heartbreaking. You get so far with all the press and all the hype and then get beat with two days to go.

“I was gutted to get beat, but just to get that close was something special and just to be in the same sentence as Willie Mullins, I’m happy with that.”

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