A Toi Phil joins illustrious roll of honour with wide-margin win

A Toi Phil took advantage of a relatively weak running of the Horse & Jockey Hotel Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on Sunday, to give Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud their third win in the last four years in a race with a rich history.

When it is considered that the owner and trainer combined with 2016 Gold Cup winner Don Cossack for their two previous successes, and that it was won last year by another Gold Cup winner in Sizing John, the race comes with certain expectations.

However, its downgrading to Grade 3 level produced a field to match  as it provided a fifth Graded success for A Toi Phil, whose adaptability and straightforward nature have made him something of a money-spinner for connections.

This was another case in point. Jack Kennedy was happy to track favourite American Tom, affording him a soft lead if anything, but when he asked A Toi Phil to go and win his race early in the straight he answered in style, putting nine and a half lengths between himself and the favourite.

Whether a trip to Cheltenham is on the cards would have to be somewhat doubtful, but A Toi Phil was still trimmed for festival success. He was generally cut for the Ryanair, to a best-priced 33-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral, while a couple of firms trimmed him for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase into as short as 25-1, but Coral still have him at twice that price.

Elliott summed it up succinctly, saying afterwards: "In his own grade he's a good horse and he never lets you down. Jack gave him a good ride again today."

The fact that American Tom was made favourite spoke more about the reputation of the horse, who has had a much-interrupted career. He hung to his left consistently and his jumping was a mixed bag.

Trainer Willie Mullins said: "He probably wants to go the other way but probably wants to drop back in trip too. We took a chance going up to two and a half miles against a winner that loves that ground and trip."