The star pupil has taken over career guidance 

In what I think was 2002, the notion landed to get da tickets for the Fairyhouse Easter Festival as a birthday present. Apart from the fact that the day we went was the coldest day I was ever at a sporting event anywhere, the other abiding memory is if Gordon Elliot taking a mount in the Bumper for Noel Meade. 
The horse in question cannot be recalled but it was owned by a Mr N. Coburn who was a long standing patron of the Tu Va yard. 
It’s suspected I was far from alone in the following, but, the next time Gordon popped up on my radar was when Silver Birch sensationally won the Aintree Grand National in 2007.
The idea of somebody improving a horse they’ve taken on from Paul Nicholls might seem far fetched but that was exactly the story with ‘Silver’. 
Meaning that the Summerhill native had trained two winners in the UK – Toran Road being his career first – before registering one at home. However, when that duck was well and truly smashed, even he would surely have considered it beyond the remit of Hans Christian Andersen to script how his career to date has transpired. 
Cynics will no doubt light on the fact that he hasn’t been Champion Trainer. Or they might even dig up dross about photographs and the like. But here’s the thing, the only reason he hasn’t garnered the training gong is due to the presence of a certain William P. Mullins in the same sphere. 
Just like Ronaldo with Messi, or Richard Johnson with AP McCoy or a multiplicity of dart throwers when Phil Taylor was in a realm all to himself. 
The difference between all of the above and Gordon is that, even though he is long established now, he still has more time in front of him than behind. 
And anyone who was that perturbed about certain photos which should never have been put into the public domain should remember that the last man who never made a mistake was crucified on a Good Friday! 
No matter what walk of life one might be in, mind you, betterment will only be attained therein by learning from others in the same field. For yours truly, that meant voraciously reading Con Houlihan and taking writing tips from anyone kind enough to impart them. 
Gordon, meanwhile, got a budding horse trainer’s equivalent of a scholarship to Harvard by finding himself under the wing of Martin Pipe, perennial Champion Trainer in the UK in his pomp. 
With him, it wasn’t just the voluminous number of winners sent out from Pond House in Nickleshane. What was more breathtaking were the processes he employed and perfected to make it possible.
In farming, there will always be those who have to be first with the biggest combine or the fastest tractor or the greatest land bank. Switch similar parameters to horse racing and MC Pipe was pioneering all-weather gallops and horse walkers and an equine spa and his own blood testing laboratory. That list could go on infinitely.
So it was no surprise to see his Irish protege adopt similarly forward-thinking facilities when he began training in Trim and then moved to Cullentra House in Longwood. 
More than that, though, much more, he who was once the star pupil has taken over career guidance for the current generations and future ones. 
Already, Olly Murphy, whose father Aiden is one of Gordon’s chief lieutenants, has ‘served his time’ in Longwood and gone on to be a top notch trainer in his own right. 
More recently, jockeys such as Keith Donoghue and Rob James and their former weighroom colleague Bryan Cooper have been buying bloodstock at recent sales. 
Now, all of them mightn’t end up in the training ranks but it would be a shock if some of them don’t. Thus, just as was the case with Elliott and Pipe, if any of them do end up in the training ranks, they could hardly have a better mentor than the man in question. 
Whatever about schooling future trainers, the main sponsor of Summerhill GFC really deserves great credit he does with jockeys. Both youngsters looking for their ‘break’ and others who may have fallen on tough times and are needing a leg up to something better. 
Lists of both categories stretching from Dunboyne to Longwood could be compiled in no time. No need for that though, all that have to be examined are the two cases which prompted production of what you are reading. 

Firstly, that of Danny Gilligan. The Galway lad – a son of Paul, a successful trainer in his own right – is the latest bright prospect to emerge on the Irish racing scene and, whether by accident or design, end up based with Gordon. 
Jockeys starting out on their careers are – in most races – allowed claim a scaled weight allowance. In other words, anybody in the earliest part of their careers will be able to claim 10 lbs off their mount’s allotted weight. Denoted as (10) after the jockey’s name in your racecard or newspaper. 
In other words, if a horse ridden by D. J. Gilligan (10) was supposed to shoulder 11-12 – top weight in most jumps races – with the rider’s claim, the burden is reduced to 11st 2 lbs. 
Conversely, though, the more winners a jockey partners, the more their claim is reduced (from 10 lbs to 7 to 5 to 3 etc). In young Gilligan’s case, he lost the first two parts of his claim quicker than Erling Haaland usually scores. 
Then, however, disaster struck. There’s never a good time to break a collarbone – or any of them for that matter – but young Gilligan’s misfortune struck when he was gliding on the crest of a self made wave. 
Still, not that anything else would’ve been expected of him, Gordon stood by his man and his loyalty was most recently handsomely rewarded. 
I’d imagine for any jump racing enthusiast where the west is awake, a lifetime ambition has to be to own, train or ride the winner of the Plate or Hurdle around Ballybrit. 
Through the Co Meath trainer’s loyalty and his own burgeoning ability, Danny Gilligan scaled that mountain top at the recent Galway Festival as he collected the Plate after his first spin in the race aboard Ash Tree Meadow in the silks of Alymer Stud, the racing operation of local entrepreneur Eamon Waters. 
One man who was no doubt studying the above developments with particular interest is Tipperary rider Jake Coen. He had made quite the name for himself ‘on the level’ with Joseph O’Brien but recently became the latest addition to Gordon’s gang. Chances are he’ll boldly go where plenty have gone before him.
* Jake Coen’s brother Ben is retained rider with Cortown’s Johnny Murtagh. 

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