Record-setter Gordon Elliott lands sixth Troytown

Fifteen runners for one trainer in any race was going to be a world record. When Cavalry Master was withdrawn at the start of the Bar One Racing Troytown Handicap Chase, 14 was still a world record. All Gordon Elliott had to do was win the race.

There proved no better horse to rely on than grey warrior Coko Beach, who produced a resilient performance to win under Danny Gilligan.

The party pooper threatened to be Elliott's former farrier Gavin Cromwell, as the well-backed Limerick Lace closed to within a couple of lengths before the last, but try as she might, the inexperienced mare could not bridge the gap on the punishing climb to the line under Aidan Kelly. 

Elliott filled the next three places. Fakir D'Alene was third after a brave display from the front ahead of stablemates Dunboyne and Frontal Assault, with the Henry de Bromhead-trained Watch House Cross sixth after failing to get home.

Coko Beach had previously won the Thyestes Chase and Grand National Trial at Punchestown, and this latest big-race strike continued a fine season for young rider Gilligan, who was having his first crack at the race, and followed up his Galway Plate success on Ash Tree Meadow. 

Elliott said: "Jack Kennedy was half-thinking of riding this fellow, but I didn't really give him the choice because I wanted to claim off him. He's a great horse. He's a real character at home. 

"I was happy with him coming into the race after his run in the Munster National. My eye was drawn to Watch House Cross, who I thought was travelling best, and then I thought Gavin's horse was going to do us from the last, but I'm delighted he got there. We might go back for another crack at the Thyestes in January."

Elliott himself had previously set the trainers' record for the most runners in one race with 13 in the 2018 Irish Grand National – including winner General Principle – and Willie Mullins equalled it later that month with 13 in the Ballymore Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown, including the winner Meri Devie.

Reflecting on lifting the bar to 14, he said: "It's important to support these races – for Navan races, for the sponsors Bar One Racing, and for Irish racing it's important these races are full. I'll support them. There would have been only six runners if I hadn't!"

Mike's back

Elliott's seventh winner of the meeting and fourth of the day will have meant more than most as the Jack Kennedy-ridden American Mike, a horse Elliott has always held in the highest regard, landed the beginners' chase. 

In a clash of the last two runners-up of the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, the winner jumped well throughout and rallied strongly to see off the Willie Mullins-trained Fact To File by three and a quarter lengths, earning an introductory quote of 10-1 from Paddy Power for the Turners Novices' Chase.

Elliott said: "He finished his race out today, which is the first time he has done it since he was a bumper horse. I'm absolutely thrilled, that meant as much as the rest of the winners. To get him back to where we have him now, I'm thrilled. And Jack has put an awful lot of work into his schooling. He'll go somewhere at Christmas, maybe to the Grade 1 at Limerick."

As well as Coko Beach, Elliott won earlier in the day with Croke Park in the Grade 3 Monksfield Novice Hurdle and Kala Conti in the opening juvenile hurdle, both ridden by Kennedy.

Day to remember for Monaghan

Local girl Caragh Monaghan will not forget this day in a hurry, as the rider from nearby Kentstown partnered her first winner on the Ian Donoghue-trained St Denis's Well.

Not many outside the Kells-based owners, the Declans Bar Syndicate, would have had their money on the 40-1 shot, but he was a revelation in a first-time tongue-tie, stretching clear up the hill to win by four and three-quarter lengths.

Monaghan, 20, who works for Donoghue and Gavin Cromwell, revealed she had called Donoghue from Cheltenham on Friday looking for the mount, and flew home on Saturday night to ride the horse. She also has a distinguished sporting past, having been part of the Meath Ladies senior football squad who won an All-Ireland title in 2021.

She said: "It's great to get my first winner, especially at my local track on a day like this. I just let him pop away slowly and creep into it down the back. I couldn't believe how well he travelled to the front. Hopefully, I'll get a few more now."