Horses To Follow » A Toi Phil

A Toi Phil

A Toi Phil won the Leopardstown Chase on Sunday, he is not exactly low-profile, but he did really well to win it and, given the way the race panned out, he can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run.

Always travelling well for Jack Kennedy in rear, the Gigginstown House horse’s jumping was good for a novice who was having his first run in a handicap. He did well for one of his limited experience taking on a big field of hardened seasoned handicappers. Only 12th as they started to leave the back straight, A Toi Phil was still just ninth or 10th and appearing to get out-paced as the admittedly well-bunched field swung around the home turn. He wasn’t helped when The Paparazzi Kid fell in front of him on the flat either. He jumped the last fence in eighth place, about six lengths behind the leader Stellar Notion, but he finished off his race really well, getting up in the last couple of strides to get home by a neck.

It was a huge effort by the Gordon Elliott-trained horse, it was a nice return to form for him after he had been well beaten in the Grade 1 three-mile novices’ chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival. Backed into favouritism beforehand, it looked like he had an insurmountable task as they turned for home, but his stamina won it for him. He finished off his race strongest of all. He did win his beginners’ chase over two miles and three furlongs at Down Royal in November, but he was more impressive when he stepped up to two miles and six furlongs and won the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Chase at Punchestown later that month. Also, he stayed well last year as a novice hurdler, he won the Grade 2 contest over two and a half miles at Leopardstown in January.

He will be of interest again now, stepped up to three miles again. He does have the option of going back into graded novice company, but the handicap route is still a realistic route. The handicapper raised him 6lb to a mark of 149 for this win, and that is fair, it is just 3lb higher than his hurdles mark. He should improve again for this experience, just his fifth chase, and he could improve for a step back up in trip.

22nd January 2017