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Winning the Gold Cup is more than a Pipe dream for Gordon Elliott

Countdown to Cheltenham: Nine days to go

GORDON ELLIOTT, rising star in Ireland's training ranks, is a Wayne Rooney lookalike.

There's the same impish grin as Elliott proudly watches his 25 Cheltenham Festival raiders, speeding up his six-furlong, woodchip all-weather gallop at his Cullentra House stables in County Meath.

 Call set ... Gordon Elliott checks up on Don Cossack
Call set ... Gordon Elliott checks up on Don Cossack

While Sir Alex Ferguson was a football father figure for Rooney, Martin Pipe and Meath trainer Michael Cunningham are the big men in Elliott's sporting life.

Elliott said: "Martin Pipe is still my hero. Michael Cunningham and Martin are the only people I call Mister.

"He's a genius and has raised jumping to a different level, just like Willie Mullins now.

"I'd love to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle and I have been second in it twice.


"JP McManus' SQUOUATEUR could be the one, although I have entered 21. He has done nothing wrong winning at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse. WESTEND STAR could be another runner."

In 2007 Elliott, at 29, became the youngest-ever trainer to win the Grand National, with excrock Silver Birch.

With astonishing progress his current empire has been created from a remote 78-acre farm in less than five years.

Elliott, now 38, told me: "I am the oldest person working here. All my money is ploughed back into the stables — plus having a friendly bank manager helps!

"I have no big car and never take expensive holidays. You won't see me in the Dublin nightspots after Leopardstown.

"I want to be champion trainer.

I have given myself 10 years. If I said I didn't want to overhaul Willie Mullins, I would be lying.