Past Winners » Tofino Bay


I am reluctant to go against Aupcharlie, I think that he is a huge talent, a really exciting prospect, and he jumps fences as well as you will see any novice jump fences. However, it is going to be really testing at Naas today, and that makes him vulnerable.

Not that he doesn’t handle heavy ground. He handled it fine when he won his beginners’ chase at Gowran Park in November. However, that was over two and a half miles. We saw when he stepped up to three miles last time, when we had him on side and he just got out-stayed by his stable companion Back In Focus up the hill at Leopardstown in the Topaz Chase, after trading at 1.01 in-running, that he probably only just about gets three miles on easy ground. You can’t say that he didn’t stay three miles, he would have won the race by 17 lengths if Back In Focus hadn’t been in the race, but he just didn’t stay it as well as his stable companion.

There is going to be even more of an emphasis on stamina today. Three miles on heavy ground at Naas presents a completely different test to the test that three miles on soft ground at Leopardstown presents. This race last year, run on heavy ground, was run in a time that was 40 seconds slower than the time that it took Back In Focus and Aupcharlie to complete Leopardstown’s three miles in the Topaz Chase, and 40 seconds is massive. Aupcharlie may win, but he may be vulnerable on the ground at the trip, and I am happy to be against him today at 4/9.

Tofino Bay will love the conditions, and I am backing him at 6/1. He proved his ability to handle this type of test when he won the Troytown Chase at Navan – a track that is not dissimilar to Naas in that it is a left-handed galloping track with an uphill finish, which gets really testing when it rains – on heavy ground. That was a huge performance for a novice with just two chases under his belt and carrying 11st 4lb. Also, Davy Russell dropped his whip that day, an essential piece of equipment at the end of a three-mile chase on heavy ground, yet he still got home by a half a length from Like Your Style, with subsequent winner Glenquest 11 lengths back in third.

Tofino Bay was well beaten by Aupcharlie in the Topaz Chase, but he travelled well to the second last fence that day, before the speedier types just ran away from him a bit around the home turn. The heavier ground today should make it much more a test of survival and stamina than a test of speed, and that will suit Tofino Bay well, as will the fact that he is a 10-year-old. Age is no liability in these tough contests.

The Gigginstown House horse is not only about toughness and durability, mind you. Winner of a point-to-point and his only bumper, he was an exciting prospect before injury intervened and saw him off the track, first for a year and a half, and then for a year before he started making up for lost time last season. He chased home Get Me Out Of Here in a Grade 2 hurdle at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting last year, before going on to win a decent race at Punchestown.

He is still lightly-raced for a 10-year-old, he has run in just seven hurdle races and this will be just his fifth chase, and he still has scope for progression.

TOFINO BAY WON (ADV 6/1 [R4], SP 2/1)