Elliott and Monaghan make headlines at Navan
Gordon Elliott claimed four winners in Navan today, including the Troytown Chase with 20/1 shot Coko Beach, to bring his tally for the Festival to seven winners on what was also a memorable day for former Meath Ladies footballer Caragh Monaghan.
Monaghan upset the odds riding her first winner in the Gaeil Colmcille GAA Kells Handicap Hurdle on 40/1 outsider St Denis's Well.
The Seneschalstown player was on the Meath panel that won the 2021 All-Ireland SFC and today she landed her first winner on the track at just her 17th attempt.
Racing behind the leaders, Monaghan's mount travelled strongly and under a cool ride, improved to lead at the last before being pushed out for a comfortable success from Makfils.
“I'm absolutely thrilled and it's great to get my first winner at my local track. I'm from Kentstown, just 10 minutes from Navan and all my family are here," said Monaghan.
“I'm with Gavin Cromwell and Ian Donoghue (today's winning trainer) and was in Cheltenham yesterday with two of Gavin's horses. I came home last night for this ride.
“I've had a good few rides on the track so I'm delighted to finally get one on the board and hopefully a few more will come. I used to play football for Meath and have a few All-Ireland medals.
"He (St Denis's well) travelled everywhere for me, jumped for fun and loved the ground. They didn't go much of a gallop so I was happy with where I was. I didn't want to take him back because I didn't want the two in front to get too far ahead.
“I let him pop away and slowly increased it down the back. He travelled from the word go and I couldn't believe it when he was in front how well I was still going. He'll definitely stay further,” concluded Monaghan.
Precocious talent Danny Gilligan crowned a dream weekend for his family and added to his own growing lustre as he navigated Coko Beach to victory in the €100,000 Grade 3 Bar One Racing Troytown Chase.
The success was the high point of another spectacular day for trainer Elliott, who followed up yesterday’s treble at Navan with a four-timer, including the other main contest of the day, the Grade 3 John Lynch Carpets Monksfield Novice Hurdle in which Croke Park (4/6f) led home a Cullentra House 1-2-3-4.
Jack Kennedy was on board Croke Park and he registered a treble on the other Elliott winners, also doing the steering on facile Bar One Racing ‘Price Boosts’ 3-Y-O Hurdle victor Kala Conti (2/13f) and American Mike (9/4), who put a disappointing season over hurdles behind him with a very eye-catching pillar-to-post victory over the heavily touted favourite Fact To File in the Race And Stay Irish EBF Beginners’ Chase.
Gilligan has enjoyed a tremendous season since linking up with Elliott, although the 17-year-old has had a couple of bad injuries too. He came back from one of those to win the Galway Plate at his local track and today, was recording a 25th winner of the season.
Yesterday, he was looking on from Navan as older brother Jack rode Buddy One, trained by their father Paul, to score at Cheltenham.
It was a sixth Troytown Chase for Elliott and he was full of praise for Gilligan. The trainer revealed that Kennedy had been considering plumping for Coko Beach rather than Run Wild Fred but that with a weight of 11st 10lb, the horse was always slated for a claim.
And it probably proved significant, as the former Thyestes Chase winner held off the late challenge of the well-backed Limerick Lace, himself given a lovely ride by another 5lb conditional, Aidan Kelly, and representing trainer Gavin Cromwell, a close friend of Elliott’s who had saddled his second winner in 24 hours at Cheltenham only 15 minutes earlier with the Seán Flanagan-ridden Malina Girl. The margin at the end was two and a quarter lengths.
“He’s a great little rider, he’s a valuable five pound,” said Elliott of Gilligan.
“Jack was actually thinking of riding this fella as well but I said no, I was definitely claiming off him so he was out of bounds straight away!
“Coko Beach is a great horse. He’s a bit of a boyo at home. He’s just a character. He’d a good run in Limerick the last day. Danny gave him a great ride.”
Croke Park was made to dig deep by the more experienced Mel Monroe, given a peach of a ride by Sam Ewing, before justifying his odds but showed a very willing attitude, with Kennedy signalling that two and a half miles might already not be far enough for the Walk In The Park five-year-old, who like the day’s big winner, is owned by the re-emerging force that is Gigginstown House Stud.
Dorking Cock was very tough over the 2m6f trip of the Bar One Racing Sign Up Offer Handicap Hurdle that many of the 11 runners found a slog, put in the firing line the whole way by JJ Slevin.
Showing impressive resolution, he bravely held off Ms Agartha Yeats by a half-length and owner/trainer Stuart Crawford revealed that a tilt at the Welsh National could be on the agenda.
Meanwhile, Cromwell had a good bumper winner yesterday in Springt De La Mare and after going close in the Troytown, he did complete a second consecutive Navan/Cheltenham double with another exciting youngster.
Only By Night was a far more decisive winner of the Coolmore NH Sires EBF INH Flat Race for mares than the two-and-a-quarter-length margin over the Crawford-trained Mongibello suggests, having been given an absolutely ultra-confident ride from the front by Derek O’Connor.