Gordon Elliott still yearns to be crowned champion trainer – but admits this season’s title may be beyond him.
After pushing perennial champion Willie Mullins close for the last two seasons, Elliott needed to start the new campaign in flying style.
But his huge string were under the weather in the early autumn, and Mullins was able to poach a lead at a time when his yard is usually quiet.
“I’ve made no secret that my ambition is to be champion trainer,” said Elliott.
“We’ve gone close the last couple of years, but this (time) it will be a struggle because the horses weren’t right for the first six weeks of the season.
“Losing out to Willie last year wasn’t as bad, but I have to admit it was heart-breaking not winning the trainers’ championship the previous year.
“I just wanted to go home and cry!”
He found it tough dealing with the spotlight at a time of disappointment, but his admiration for his rival deepened.
“Everywhere you go there is a camera in your face and people are asking you questions,” Elliott added.
“You have to be so careful what you say.
“(But) Willie is an amazing man – and until you cross the line you are never there. I always say it’s great to be even mentioned in the same sentence as him.”
The start of the new campaign brought unexpected and unwelcome pressures.
He said: “There were a lot of rumours going around earlier in the season that we were never going to train another winner, and the whole place was going to shut down.
“But the horses just weren’t right, and we had a bit of a bug.
“We took a pull and we had the Turf Club out here, and we tested all the horses. Thankfully we got over it, but it was a tough six weeks. We had to sit on our hands and we were getting a lot of pressure from the press.
“We were open with everyone and when you are straight with people, it will always come back around.”
Nonetheless, Elliott was sparing at the time with his public comments.
“I think I spent a week in France buying horses at the time, and I only answered the phone to who I wanted to talk to!” he said.
“We didn’t make an entry for two or three weeks and I didn’t realise it myself, but when we did nothing for two weeks it delayed us six weeks.
“The horses only walked and trotted for two weeks until we made sure everything was OK. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time, and it shows now it was.”