Navan: Empire gives 11-strong Elliott team Troytown win

Empire Of Dirt

Empire Of Dirt and Bryan Cooper after their victory

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

 By Bruce Jackson 2:24PM 27 NOV 2016 

Navan, Sunday

Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase 3m

EMPIRE OF DIRT gave trainer Gordon Elliott his hat-trick of Troytown wins when romping away with the valuable prize under a confident ride from Bryan Cooper.

Elliott, who saddled 11 runners in the race had to settle for first and fourth with race favourite Noble Endeavour only fourth. The Elliott runners were split by runner-up Abolionist, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, and gallant front-runner Bonny Kate.

Elliott was making it four winners on the day and Cooper three – the trainer would add another two – with the 12-1 winner about whom the County Meath trainer revealed he had rung owner Michael O’Leary to ask to have him on the retirement of his previous trainer Colm Murphy.

Cooper, first jockey to O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud, also asked Elliott to ride the second top weight when Elliott was thinking of claiming off the nine-year-old.

Success did not look so likely as Elliott runners were on the back foot, not in the first four turning for home as Bonny Kate, who disputed the lead with Domesday Book for much of the race, still led over the third-last.

The picture changed dramatically as Cooper snuck through against the inside rail travelling well and swept into the lead going to two out before being able to ease Empire Of Dirt in the last 50 yards.

Credit to Colm Murphy

Elliott, asked how he had watched his 11 runners, said: “To be honest I didn’t put my mind to Empire Of Dirt until the last in the back straight when I could see he was going well.

“A lot of the credit has to go to Colm Murphy as I only picked him up after he retired. He is a nice horse I liked and has a big engine.”

Cooper admitted his biggest worry was getting the winner settled and jumping well.

“He was a bit keen early and I was trying to get him cover but he was having a good look at his fences thank god.

“I knew going to the third-last I was going to win,” added Cooper. “He was Graded class over hurdles and it was just a case of getting his jumping together over fences.” 

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