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Elliott pips Mullins as big guns' battle goes to wire

By Ron McKnight

Gordon Elliott landed his first Cheltenham Festival training title as he withstood the late challenge of Willie Mullins to take the honours.

Elliott had looked home and hosed after two days, with five winners, before his great rival had even got on the board.

However, the complexion changed when Mullins rattled in a four-timer on Thursday and briefly went ahead thanks to a double yesterday through Arctic Fire in the County Hurdle and Penhill in the Albert Bartlett.

Elliott drew level again on six when Champagne Classic won the Martin Pipe, and that was enough to give the County Meath handler the title on countback.

"It's been an amazing week," said Elliott. "To beat Willie, with the strength he has - and he's an amazing trainer - is brilliant.

"It's unbelievable, we had three winners Tuesday and had a bit of a drink, too much, so we haven't touched a drop since. When we get home next week we'll have a staff party."

Ruby Walsh's four-timer on the third afternoon was enough for him to clinch the jockeys' title for the 11th time.

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