Gordon Elliott (born 2 March 1978) is a County Meath-based National Hunt racehorse trainer. After riding as an amateur jockey, he took out a trainer’s licence in 2006. He was 29 when his first Grand National entry, the 33 to 1 outsider Silver Birch, won the 2007 race. In 2018 and 2019 he won the Grand National with Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell and owned by Gigginstown House Stud, the first horse since Red Rum to win the race twice. In 2018 he also won the Irish Grand National, with General Principle. On two occasions, in 2017 and 2018, he was the top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival.
In March 2021 the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board imposed a twelve-month ban (with six months suspended) on Elliott after a photograph surfaced of him sitting on a dead horse on his gallops in 2019.
With little family background in racing, Elliott is sometimes described as Irish racing’s great “”””blow-in””””. The son of a panel-beater, he grew up in Summerhill, County Meath and entered the racing world at the age of thirteen, working for trainer Tony Martin at weekends and holidays. Elliott took out a licence as an amateur jockey when he was sixteen and rode on the racecourse and in point-to-points. His first winner on the racecourse came on Caitriona’s Choice in a bumper at Ballinrobe. He went on to ride a total of 200 point-to-point winners and 46 winners on the racecourse, with the highlight of his riding career being his win in the Punchestown Champion Bumper on the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained King’s Road in 1998. He also had five winners in the United States. Although based mainly with Tony Martin during his riding career, he spent a year in England with trainer Martin Pipe. He retired as a jockey through injury in 2005.
Elliott took out his trainer’s licence in 2006 and had his first winner at Perth on 11 June 2006. On 14 April 2007 he become the youngest ever trainer to win the Grand National. The winner, Silver Birch, was owned by Brian Walsh of County Kildare, and ridden by Robbie Power. Despite having won the Grand National, Elliott had not at that stage trained a winner on the track back home in Ireland. The first winner he trained in Ireland was Toran Road at Kilbeggan on 5 May 2007.
Although best known for his victories over jumps, Elliott had a major win on the flat in August 2010 when Dirar won the Ebor Handicap at York Racecourse. He has also had victories at Royal Ascot, with Commissioned winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes in 2016 and Pallasator winning the same race in 2018.
Originally based at Capranny Stables, a rented yard in Trim, County Meath, Elliott bought the 78-acre Cullentra House Farm at Longwood, County Meath in 2011 and built a training facility with stabling for over 200 horses, gallops, schooling grounds, and an equine pool.
His first winner at the Cheltenham Festival as a trainer was Chicago Grey in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup in 2011. He won the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Don Cossack. In 2017 he was top trainer at the Cheltenham Festival and the following year repeated the achievement.
On 2 April 2018 Elliott won the Irish Grand National with General Principle, ridden by JJ Slevin. Elliott had saddled 13 of the 30 horses in the field. That year he also won the Aintree Grand National with his horse Tiger Roll, ridden by Davy Russell and owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, narrowly beating the Willie Mullins runner Pleasant Company. Elliott also trained the third place horse Bless The Wings. He won the Aintree Grand National again in 2019 with Tiger Roll, only the sixth repeat winner in the race’s history.
On 28 February 2021, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) launched an investigation into an image of Elliott, which was widely circulated on social media, sitting on a dead horse and making a peace sign. Elliott confirmed the photograph was genuine, issued an apology and said he was fully cooperating with the investigation. The animal rights organisation PETA and the British Horseracing Authority condemned the photograph. On 1 March the British Horse Racing Authority announced that Elliott would be banned from racing horses in Britain while the investigation in Ireland took place, although the horses would be allowed to run if transferred to another trainer. It was confirmed that the photo was taken in 2019 and showed a horse owned by Gigginstown House Stud, Morgan, that had died while being ridden on the gallops.
Minister of State for Sport Jack Chambers said that Elliott must be “”””held fully accountable for his actions”””” and that the photograph showed “”””a complete and profound error of judgement””””. Chambers told Morning Ireland that he was “”””shocked, appalled and horrified”””” by the image and that it was “”””really disturbing from an animal welfare perspective””””.
On 2 March Cheveley Park Stud announced that they would move their horses – Envoi Allen and Quilixios to go to Henry de Bromhead and Sir Gerhard to go to Willie Mullins. Elliott’s leading owners, Michael and Eddie O’Leary through their Gigginstown House Stud, expressed their support for him despite being “”””deeply disappointed by the unacceptable photo””””.
On 5 March 2021 the IHRB convened a hearing and banned Elliott from racing for twelve months with six months suspended, leaving him unable to train or attend a race meeting or point-to-point until September. He was also ordered to pay costs of €15,000. Elliott accepted the ruling. Later that month the stable employee who took the photograph was banned for nine months (with seven suspended).
In 2007 Elliott won the inaugural Meath Sportsperson of the Year award. He won the award again in 2018 and 2019.
Elliott was engaged to champion point-to-point rider Annie Bowles, with whom he set up Cullentra House Stables. The couple separated and Bowles married Ballarat trainer Archie Alexander.