Elliott back in Cheltenham winner’s enclosure with Top Bandit

Trainer served six-month suspension but made successful return to ranks in September

Trainer Gordon Elliott  with veteran jockey Davy Russell at Cheltenham today where where the Irish handler said of his jockey: ‘he’s 42, but he’s different class.’ Photograph: Getty

Trainer Gordon Elliott with veteran jockey Davy Russell at Cheltenham today where where the Irish handler said of his jockey: ‘he’s 42, but he’s different class.’ Photograph: Getty

 

Gordon Elliott said it was “great to be back” in the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure after Top Bandit provided him with his first victory at the track since his suspension.

Elliott served a six-month suspension after a photograph of him sat astride a dead horse was circulated on social media earlier in the year.

He returned to the ranks in September and wasted little time in getting back among the winners, but he has never made any secret of his love of Cheltenham, having saddled 32 winners at the Festival to date.

On what was also a notable meeting for Cheltenham with crowds back on course, Elliott was eager to strike but he had to wait until the final race, the Foundation Developments Maiden Hurdle.

‘Great to be back’

Always travelling smoothly for Davy Russell, another making his Cheltenham return after a long injury, Top Bandit was made to battle by Brorson to justify 15-8 favouritism.

“It’s great to be back at Cheltenham, as everyone knows I love training winners here,” said Elliott.

“When you’ve got Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy riding here for you it makes it a fair bit easier. We’ll have a few runners at the November meeting, but Cheltenham in March is what it’s all about. There are a few Irish people here today supporting us, which is nice.”

Elliott added of Russell: “I never questioned he’d come back. He’s 42, but he’s different class. I’m very lucky to have him and Jack.

“Top Bandit will probably improve for a bit of soft ground but I couldn’t believe he didn’t win a bumper.”

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