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The Battle To Decide The Irish Jumps Champion Trainer

Written by James Given

The Epic Battle Unfolding At Punchestown

The epic battle that is unfolding at Punchestown this week to decide the Irish Jumps Champion Trainer is enthralling for observers and must be punishingly intense for those involved. At the beginning of the festival Gordon Elliott was far from home and hosed but the gap in prize money was roughly 500,000 euros. Tuesday went 3 wins to Willie to 2 to Gordon and the gap narrowed to 400,000 euros. But then Willie had a Wonderful Wednesday with 6 wins to none and took the lead by about 50,000 euros. Willie’s dominance continued on Thursday with 3 wins to 1, to extend his lead to 424,148 euros. There are still two more days to go and some good prize money to be won, so keep watching!

A Troubling Issue For Irish Jump Racing

Behind the excitement this battle is giving to everyone that is watching lies a more troubling issue for Irish Jump racing. There are two Grade

1 races today with winning prize money of 162,250 and 59,000 euros. In the first race there are 8 runners with Willie having 5 of them and Gordon 2. In the second there are 12 runners with Willie having 6 runners and Gordon 5. By my maths there is only one other stable represented in each of the Grade 1s today.

In the third last race on Saturday, with a prize fund of 100,000 euros, an amount that is the last to be able to make a significant difference to the outcome of the championship, there are 75 entries. Willie has 45 and Gordon 10. It is the total dominance of this entry that I find staggering. In fairness many of Willie’s entries are way down the handicap and have no chance of getting a run, but he has the depth to his yard that he is able to leave no stone unturned and no opportunity missed in order to keep his Champion’s crown.

A First For The Jump Trainer’s Table

In terms of the Jump Trainers’ table, it is the first year that any trainer has gone through the 5 million barrier and this has been achieved by two trainers. Gordon has won more money than the third, fourth, fifth and sixth placed trainers put together. Willie was behind Gordon at the beginning of Punchestown by more than the seventh placed trainer had earned all season, which he made up in 48 hours.

Both Willie and Gordon fully deserve all the success they are getting and it is going to be awfully hard on the stable that comes second after such an extraordinary culmination to the season. However spare a thought for other jumps trainers in Ireland who are perfectly fine trainers but many may soon find the continued necessity of balancing their books an unequal and unrewarding struggle.

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