Gordon Elliott suffers fortnight from hell with two deaths and the loss of top jockeys | The Sun
GORDON ELLIOTT has suffered a devastating fortnight to forget just two months out from the Cheltenham Festival.
The three-time Grand National winning-trainer has been rocked by the death of two top horses.
His No1 jockey has broken his leg for the fifth time and needs a miracle to make it back in time for racing's biggest meeting.
And his former go-to man Davy Russell – who rode two of Elliott's Aintree wins on Tiger Roll – announced his retirement just three weeks before.
All in all it points to a maelstrom of problems for the Cullentra boss with the clock ticking to the first day of the Festival.
If there's one man who knows about coming back from the depths of despair, though, it's Elliott.
His whole word – and the sport of racing – was rocked with his infamous dead horse photo, described by the man himself as a 'moment of madness'.
Elliott, 45 in March, was banned, missed the Festival and returned quietly six months later.
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His 2022 Festival wasn't exactly one to remember, with just two winners in the shape of 50-1 Commander of Fleet and Delta Work.
Both of those look likely to race at Prestbury Park again – but sadly Three Stripe Life and Top Bandit won't.
It was seven-year-old Top Bandit's fatal fall at Naas earlier this month that broke Jack Kennedy's leg.
The 23-year-old was rushed to hospital for a scan while holding a lead over Paul Townend in the jockeys' standings.
Being crowned top dog is no mean feat in itself but it's the Festival winners that make a legend.
Elliott looked like he could have a live one on his hands in the shape of Three Stripe Life.
But he sadly suffered a fatal injury under Kennedy in a race also marred by the death of Unexpected Depth at Leopardstown in December.
That came several days after Russell announced his shock retirement on a quiet Sunday at Thurles.
Russell told Sun Racing he is open to making a sensational return to racing to ride for Elliott at Cheltenham.
And the genius trainer can still count on the expertise of highly promising young jockeys Jordan Gainford and Sam Ewing.
Denis O'Regan is another Elliott will now bump up the pecking order after Kennedy's injury.
There is still enough time before Cheltenham to keep the alarm bells silent for now.
Kennedy could make a spectacular return in time to ride the likes of Turners' Novice Chase fave Mighty Potter.
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And Elliott has, as ever, banged in a load of big winners, including Conflated in the Savills Chase, with Fury Road in third.
But there's no doubt these past few days have given him an almighty headache he could well do without.
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