Cheltenham Festival: Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell win top trainer and jockey awards

A day to savour for Gordon Elliott
A day to savour for Gordon Elliott

Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott topped off the Irish domination of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival as they were crowned leading rider and trainer respectively.

The meeting has seen the raiding party claim no less than 17 of the 28 races, with Gigginstown House Stud also being named leading owners to make it a clean sweep for the Irish team.

While Russell was out of luck on the final day of action, his nearest rival Jack Kennedy was soon off the mark aboard Farclas in the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle.

However, Kennedy could not find another winner, leaving Russell to take the Holland Cooper Leading Jockey Award by virtue of his second place aboard Midnight Tour in Tuesday's OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

Russell said: "You need to get over the three (winners) to win it. I've had three winners here before and finished second in it.

"Jack was really close but he'll have plenty of opportunities to win it in other years, he's only young.

"It's very nice to win it at this stage of my career."

Elliott and Willie Mullins enjoyed a ding-dong battle for the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award, with Elliott striking twice on the final day.

He was responsible for the Kennedy-ridden Farclas, while Donagh Meyler steered Blow By Blow to a clear-cut triumph in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

Mullins could not add to the seven winners he had already bagged over the previous three days, with Mr Adjudicator coming closest to augmenting the handler's tally as he chased home Farclas in the opener.

Elliott said: "To have eight winners is great, I just can't believe it, it's a dream come true.

"Obviously we came here with some nice chances, but to have eight winners - you couldn't believe it.

"All the horses ran well, which is great. To win the Martin Pipe race, after everything he did for me, it means a lot. He's the main man.

"We're lucky, we've got a lot of nice horses, but if I had to pick out a highlight it would be Samcro - him winning was just a relief."

The victories of Blow By Blow and Farclas set the seal on a fruitful week for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown operation, with the maroon and white silks coming home in front no less than seven times, including with Balko Des Flos in the Ryanair Chase, the race he has sponsored since 2006.

O'Leary said: "It's surreal - never to be repeated. I can't believe it. We will enjoy this week, it's been phenomenal and we will have blanks for the next few years!"

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