Gordon Elliott has admitted that his bid for a first Irish Trainers Championship may already be out of sight, as he believes old rival Willie Mullins is away and gone.
Elliott has finished runner-up to Mullins every year since 2012, but has pushed him especially close in the last two seasons. Mullins himself has been Champion Trainer for the last ten years, and Elliott believes he needed to start the new campaign in flying style.
That he didn't, as he confirmed his huge yard were hit with a bug in the autumn, thus allowing the reigning champion to steal an early lead - at a time when his yard is usually rather quiet. Most of Mullins's big guns have not even returned to track, yet he has somehow already bagged an extra 26 winners than his closest pursuer, with an additional 500,000euros on the board.
(Credit: Irish Mirror) Elliott said: "I've made no secret that my ambition is to be champion trainer.
"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!"
Elliott who enjoyed must success at the Cheltenham Festival earlier this year, before winning the Grand National with Tiger Roll, was well aware the season was not over until the final race.
Mullins gradually eroded Elliott's advantage at the Punchestown meeting at the end of the season before taking it up, and Elliott found it tough dealing with the result.
(Credit: Irish Mirror) He said: "Everywhere you go there is a camera in your face and people are asking you questions.
"You have to be so careful what you say, but regardless 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."
Elliott will be hoping he can conquer the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown to try and make some ground up, but there is plenty of the season to go, and hopefully it will be only a matter of time until Elliott reaches his long time goal.