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Retirement not immediately imminent for Elsworth

Legendary trainer David Elsworth has insisted he has no immediate plans to retire, although he admits “it is around the corner”.

Elsworth, winner of the 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Desert Orchid and the 1988 Grand National with Rhyme ‘N’ Reason, currently has the majority of his horses on the Flat and runs the Jeff Smith-owned Tropical Talent in a Kempton nursery on Wednesday evening.

The 82-year-old Newmarket handler is widely regarded by his peers as one of the greatest dual-purpose trainers to ever grace the game.

He has scaled the heights in both codes, with the likes of Classic winner In The Groove, dual Goodwood Cup champion Persian Punch and runaway Triumph Hurdle winner Oh So Risky.

And he insists he is carrying on – for the time being, at least.

Elsworth said on Tuesday: “Well, I’ve got a runner tomorrow. There is no retirement plan. I just have got one or two to run and I’m just chugging along with the one or two I’ve got, really.

“I haven’t got any big exit planned, or anything like that.

“I have a couple of obligations, commitments to horses that I have got, and I’ll just carry on.

“It is February when we do our licences, so at this moment I am playing it by ear.”

David Elsworth with the one and only Desert Orchid
David Elsworth with the one and only Desert Orchid (Rebecca Naden/PA)

While he is happy to ease off, there is no doubt that few trainers have the same natural gift to understand what makes a horse tick than Elsworth.

Yet he is keen to slow down and by design has cut back on his numbers in recent years, despite his great friend Smith being staunchly supportive.

Elsworth explained: “I’m an old man now, and when you get old you slow down a bit.

“But I haven’t got a definite plan about retirement. Obviously, it is around the corner and I don’t want to mislead anybody or do something then change direction – that wouldn’t be fair.

“I’m not trying to be secretive or difficult. I run one tomorrow, and I’ve got a two-year-old for Jeff and a couple of unraced ones being trained, so we’ll just keep carrying on as we are at the moment.”