Fancy Foundations recorded Gordon Elliott’s first victory since returning from suspension, with determined success at Sligo.
The main trainer was suspended for 12 months, with half of that sentence suspended, after an image of him sitting on a dead horse was widely shared on social media in March.
Elliott was also ordered to pay costs of € 15,000 – the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board saying the sanction reflected “the seriousness of the infringement and the damage done to the Irish racing industry” after the image caused a huge public outcry.
After serving a six-month ban, in which Denise Foster took temporary control of the stables at Cullentra House, Elliott saddled his first rider since March 8 on Tuesday’s Flat map at Punchestown – where Oh Purple Reign has finished well beaten.
The Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning manager was widely expected to clinch the score in the opening race over the jumps at Sligo on Wednesday, but 8-13 favorite The Sliding Rock committed a big mistake in trying to close in the Irish. Stallion Farms EBF Mares Beginners Chase and finished third out of four runners.
Silver Star and Imperial Sachin having had no luck later on the map, it was left to Elliott’s last runner of the day, Fancy Foundations, to find the goods in the Templehouse Lake Chase – which he has. ultimately done in a fighting style.
Facing only three rivals, the tied favorite did not always convince in show jumping, but dug deep for Denis O’Regan after the final hurdle to gain the upper hand over Blackstair Rocco by four lengths.
Elliott said, “We thought we came here with two good chances, the mare in the first (The Sliding Rock) and obviously this boy.
“It was a good performance. He was a little excited. and it was a tactical race, but Denis gave him a good lap and he jumped well. It’s great for Andrew and Gemma Brown (owners), who are big supporters of the yard.
“He’s not a true winter, heavy-terrain horse and will likely go on a novice hunt in Cheltenham in October.”
Elliott received warm applause from those around the parade ring.
He added: “It was nice to have this welcome from the people here. I have missed them for the past six months as much as I have missed them.
“It’s great for my staff. They worked hard. Alicia, the girl who led the horse, is going back to college next week to be a vet, and this was her first time leading a winner – so that’s great.
Elsewhere on the map, it was a memorable afternoon for coach John Ryan, who saddled four of the seven winners.
The Templemore-based coach scored a hat trick in the first three races, with Kitty Galore (7-2), Rippon Lodge (15-2) and Grange Walk (4-1) all winning gold, before finishing his four -timer in the final with 11-2 chances Father Jed.
Ryan scored a hat-trick in the corresponding match in 2016 – the only time he has ever saddled three winners in one game.