Mullins fought back against Gordon Elliott this week and although Elliott took the feature with Apple’s Jade it was not enough as the title went back to Closutton
APPLE’S JADE was a sparkling winner of the Mares Champion Hurdle on the closing day of the Punchestown Festival – but it was not enough for Gordon Elliott.
It was a bittersweet moment for Elliott as Willie Mullins’ runners finished second, third, fourth and fifth to snatch the trainers championship from Elliott’s grasp.
It was Mullins’ tenth title in a row and eleventh in all, and in the end he finished just under €200,000 clear.
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But all season, right up to Friday, Elliott was in the driving seat.
The Cullentra House handler said: “In ways I’m heartbroken of course, but we’ve had a fantastic season.
“We’ve won over 4 million in prize money, and, something that does mean a lot to me, I’ve just equalled Willie’s record of 193 winners in a season.”
Apples Jade was always up with the pace as Airlie Beach led her for a long way.
But once Bryan Cooper pushed the button on the even money favourite she glided by to beat Airlie Beach by 14 lengths with Karalee third.
Elliott added: “She’s a great mare, I don’t think she’ll jump a fence we’ll keep her at this game.
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A crowd of 35,000 crammed into the south Kildare track to see the climax of the trainers championship.
An epic duel, but Elliott didn’t lose it, Mullins won it.
And in ways this was his greatest triumph as he had to take it right out of the fire.
Mullins said: “It’s a feeling of relief as much as anything, it’s been a difficult season with one thing and another.
“Of course I feel for Gordon, he’s been magnificent all season, and is an absolute gentleman.”
Bapaume taking the AES Four Year Old Champion Hurdle wrapped it up for the Closutton team, though Mullins was reluctant to claim victory at that stage, although Elliott had already conceded.
Ruby Walsh got the 2/1 jolly home by a length a half from Landofhopeandglory, with the Mullins trained Meri Devie third.
Walsh, bagging his 12th Jockeys Championship title, equalled his own best seasonal tally of 131, said: “I’m glad I was finally able to do something to help Willie Mullins this week!”
It’s been a great week for Colin Tizzard and he got a warm reception from the crowd after Robbie Power steered Sizing Codelco 4/1 home in the Pat Taaffe Chase.
Tizzard said: “We’ve brought seven horses over and had three winners, and three placed.
“I’m living the dream really, a fantastic end to a wonderful season.”