Elliott races to quick treble at Navan
Cross-card success for Gavin Cromwell with winner for Trim syndicate in Cheltenham
The two big races on day one of the Navan racing Festival went the way of Henry deBromhead and Rachael Blackmore, but it was Gordon Elliott who scored a hat-trick at his home venue as he won three of the first four races on the card.
Bob Olinger and Captain Guinness justified odds of 15/8 and 3/1 to take the Lismullen Hurdle and Fortria Chase respectively in front of a huge crowd for deBromhead.
Elliott and Jack Kennedy had to settle for second place in the Lismullen Hurdle with 5/4 favourite Zanahiyr finishing a length behind in the colours of Noel and Valerie Moran from Bective Stud.
Elliott and Kennedy had to be content with runner-up spot in the Fortria too as Riviere D'etel was seven lengths behind Captain Guinness at odds of 5/1, again for Bective Stud connections.
There was joy for Elliott and Kennedy in the opening race of the day just before noon when the Gigginstown House owned Stellar Story had almost five lengths to spare ahead of Largy Hill in the Kilberry Pub & Kitchen Maiden Hurdle over 2 mile 4 furlongs.
Stellar Story brought up his hat-trick when making a winning transition to flights in the opening race. The gelding had landed bumpers at Fairyhouse and Naas back in January and February respectively and was on point on his first hurdling start.
Kennedy sent him on in this big field, but the pair were closely attended by Beau Walking who moved on terms three out when Stellar Story pecked and the duo moved clear before the last.
At this stage, Stellar Story got the better of his rival and was better in jumping it. He stayed on at the business end to justify 4/7 favouritism by four and three-quarter lengths.
“He's a nice horse. Jack said he'd come on from it too as he had a bit of a blow. I was a bit worried in the back straight when the other horse was going with us, but he said he'd come on plenty from it and we're delighted. He was bought to be a big staying chaser,” said Elliott.
Gavin Cromwell and Keith Donoghue were best of the local connections in the second race as 4/1 favourite Ask Anything was held off by three-quarters of a length by Eddie and Patrick Harty's Harvard Guy in the Lisadell Equine Hospital Handicap Hurdle.
After finishing nionth in the second race with Sea Aster it was back to winning ways in the third race for Elliott and Kennedy as Fortunedefortunata justified 10/3 favouritism to win the Hotel Park St Johann Tirol Handicap Hurdle.
The winner picked up the lead between the final two flights but eyes were drawn to strong-travelling Clarens on his outer.
Fortunedefortunata was in no mood to relent though and went on from that rival approaching the last. He jumped it slickly and powered up the hill to strike by six and a-half lengths.
Clarens couldn't lay a glove on the winner on the run-in and was booked for second at 20/1.
“They are all lads (Breakaway's Syndicate) that I went to school with so it's great,” said Elliott.
“We didn't give a fortune for him and today was the plan, thankfully it worked out for him. He loves really heavy ground. He probably wouldn't take a lot of running quickly," concluded the trainer.
The Summerhill man didn't have to wait long for his treble as Sam Ewing guided What's Up Darling to a neck victory over his 11/8 favourite stablemate Dee Capo with Kennedy on board in the Bar One Racing For Auction Novice Hurdle.
Just when it looked like Dee Capo would grab him on the run in, What's Up Darling strained for the line and took the first prize.
“He's a quick horse. He probably got racing a bit early but he won so it's great. The other horse (Dee Capo) ran a serious race, Jack (Kennedy) said he tried to hang off the track on the far side. He probably gave away a lot of lengths. Jack said he thought he was going to pull him up, but when he straightened out he sprinted again. I had the one-two so I won't complain,” said Elliott.
DeBromhead took the next two big races on the card before Facile Vega won the Steeplechase penultimate contest with Elliott settling for third with Saint Felicien.
There was still time for more local success as Gavin Cromwell claimed the bumper with Springt De La Mare who edged out Elliott's My Trump Card which is owned by Bective Stud.
Cromwell's win completed a cross-card double for the trainer as his Hascoeur Clermont won the opening race in Cheltenham for the Riverview Racing Syndicate which includes popular Trim people Richie Fitzsimons, Rory Maguire, Frankie Murphy, Eoin Kelly, Cyril Halton, Adam Englishby, Ray Glennon, Joanne Maguire, Philip Power, Andy O'Brien, George Troy and Niall Mangan.