The 14th April 2007 saw Gordon Elliott become the youngest ever trainer to win the world's most prestigious steeplechase, the Aintree Grand National. It was a phenomenal training feat, achieved by the 29 year old, for many reasons; not only had Gordon only just entered his second season as a licensed trainer but the horse, Silver Birch, was bought from none other than the Champion trainer Paul Nicholls. Another incredible fact is that despite having won the Grand National, Gordon was yet to train a winner on the track back home in Ireland.
Undoubtedly a defining moment for Gordon's career, the Grand National win highlighted him as a serious, up and coming training force to be reckoned with. And he has not disappointed since. The winners have been coming in thick and fast, whether it is at the local point to point or at Cheltenham. Gordon is young, determined and hungry for success.
It has been through sheer hard work and determination that Gordon has got where he is today. Unlike so many of the great Irish trainers, Gordon does not have a racing pedigree, in fact the family business is cars. However at a young age Gordon always preferred four hooves to four wheels and learnt to ride on a pony kept in the back garden. At the age of thirteen Gordon first entered the racing world, working for Tony Martin at weekends and holidays. This developed into a full time job as soon as he could leave school. Taking out his amateur licence at sixteen, Gordon's first winner came in a bumper at Ballinrobe on board Caitriona's Choice, trained by Michael Cunningham for whom Gordon would go on to ride many winners. Intermittently Gordon spent around twelve years with Tony while also gaining experience with Liam Brown on the Curragh and the late Gordon Richards. Gordon also spent a year in England working for the fifteen times champion trainer Martin Pipe.
As a jockey Gordon achieved great success, notably two winners at Cheltenham, the Champion Bumper at Punchestown and five winners in the US. Gordon was forced into retirement through injury and so naturally turned his hand to what he knew best. He took out his trainers licence in March 2006 with just six horses in his yard. His first winner followed shortly when Arresting won a 2m Handicap Hurdle in Perth. Five more winners followed that year as did the acquisition of Silver Birch from Doncaster Sales. Although the horse had confirmed leg problems, Gordon managed to keep him sound with a training regime which involved regular hunting with the Ward Union. A great run to finish second at Cheltenham in the cross country race gave Gordon and Silver Birch's owner, Brian Walsh, the idea to run him in the National 'for a bit of craic'.
Gordon has since expanded his yard and now has fifty horses in training with an exciting team of young horses. Of course he will always be chasing the prolific winners but you will find him just as delighted when his horse wins a point to point.