Jimmy Geoghegan: Elliott’s return to the top table gives hope for all

Gordon Elliott's adventures over the last year or so shows clearly that there is a way back after adversity strikes.

The Meath trainer received the equivalent of a slap across the face with a wet towel last March when a picture was published online showing him sitting on a dead horse.

The publication of the photo drew the expected wave of criticism. Owners withdrew their horses from his stables at Cullentra House, Longwood.

There was an avalanche of criticism online, many of the keyboard warriors calling for him to be banished from horseracing for life - but there were those who continued to support him including Michael O'Leary and Gigginstown House Stud. Support or not, Elliott still received a hefty six-month ban.

Elliott, of course, apologised profusely for any offence caused by the photograph, but for a time it did look like his career as one of the most successful trainers in Britain and Ireland was in tatters. Ruined. All the good work of the past buried under an avalanche of bad publicity.

Yet when his suspension was up and he got back into business he continued as he had left off. He recorded nine winners in a week in September. There were other notable achievements such as four winners at Fairyhouse in late November.

Then there was the magnificant seven. The seven winners he had at Navan in early December, becoming the first trainer to saddle that number of winners at one meeting in Britain or Ireland. What an achievement.

It all goes to show how fortunes can change in life and sport, very quickly too. Last March the outlook for Elliott was bleak indeed. It looked for a while at least, like there would be no way back for him but time moves on and the wheel of fortune continues to turn.

It takes a certain resilience; a certain mental strength and temperment to shrug off the kind of setback that Elliott suffered and return. Yet he stayed on course before bouncing back in fine style - and no doubt in 2022 there will be more success in store for the man who has become the Lazarus of Irish horseracing.