Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Trainer Brian Ellison hopeful £1 million Ascot gamble can pay off
TOP NOTCH TONTO, who has journeyed from North Yorkshire to Ascot for today's Queen Elizabeth ll Stakes is playing for the highest of stakes.
Not among the original entries, he has been supplemented, at a cost of £70,000 to his ambitious owner Keith Brown, for a Group 1 race which carries a whopping £1m in prize money.
By any standards it's a bold bid, but Norton trainer Brian Ellison believes it is a gamble worth taking with a horse, who has swiftly climbed the ranks this season and who, significantly, relishes soft ground, which he is assured of having at Ascot.
It is hard to imagine that Top Notch Tonto will actually win this classy event, but if he manages to finish third he will pick up prize money of £114,000 and will produce a handsome profit on his supplementary entry fee for his sporting connections.
A more likely winner of this showpiece contest is Soft Falling Rain, who has been beaten only once in his life and who comes into this race after an impressive Group 2 win at Newmarket under Paul Hanagan, who takes the mount again tomorrow.
There is a slight doubt about Soft Falling Rain being as effective when the ground is testing, but he is such a top-quality colt that he is fancied to come out on top from Gordon Lord Byron with – fingers crossed – Top Notch Tonto filling the minor berth.
The Champions Day card at Ascot is certainly a cracking programme and it could be launched by a Royal winner in the shape of the Queen's admirable filly Estimate, winner of both her races this season, including the Gold Cup on this course, in the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Maarek, the Prix de l’Abbeye winner, and a confirmed mudlark, promises to be the horse to beat in the Qipco British Champions Sprint Stakes, in which Richard Fahey’s recent course winner Heaven’s Guest has each-way prospects with Ryan Moore again on board.
The French challenge is a formidable one throughout the afternoon and the cross-Channel raiders could be rewarded with wins from the high-class Dalkala in the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes and the tried-and-tested Cirrus Des Aigles in the Qipco Champion Stakes. Both horses will be partnered by Christophe Soumillon.
Today’s Catterick programme obviously pales by comparison to Ascot, but the eight-race card features some competitive fare, plus a £25,000 centrepiece in the totepool Mobile Catterick Dash Handicap, which may well have the name of Mick Easterby attached to it come the close of proceedings.
Easterby saddles Aetna, a progressive three-year-old, who finished a close up third at Ayr last month, but who might well have prevailed had she not been drawn on the unfavoured side of the course. She can compensation under Graham Gibbons and is awarded the nap vote.
Mohawk Ridge (3.05) a previous course winner, and Phil Kirby's prolific winner Just Paul (4.15) are two others to note at the North Yorkshire course.
1.45 Estimate, 2.20 Maarek, 2.55 Dalkala, 3.30 Soft Falling Rain, 4.05 Cirrus Des Aigles, 4.45 Fury.
1.20 Discovery Bay, 1.55 Sandra’s Diamond, 2.30 Bint Malyana, 3.05 Mohawk Ridge, 3.40 Aetna (NAP), 4.15 Just Paul, 4.50 Omega Omega, 5.20 Wee Giant.
Today’s other meetings: Cheltenham, Kelso and Wolverhampton.
Tomorrow’s meetings: Bath and Kempton.
Comments are closed on this article.