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Gamble pays off to ensure Top Notch Tonto's future
NEWBURY’S Lockinge Stakes is among a host of top-class targets being earmarked for Top Notch Tonto after his “brilliant” big-money run at Ascot.
The three-year-old, trained at Norton by Brian Ellison, landed a gamble for the Spring Cottage Stables handler when finishing second in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes behind Olympic Glory on Champions Day.
Connections made the bold bid of supplementing the gelding for the mile race at a cost of £70,000 following a string of results which landed the talented horse a Group 3 prize at Haydock and a Listed contest at Redcar.
Their confidence, boosted by the soft ground at the Berkshire track, was justified as Top Notch Tonto picked up £227,900 for his efforts.
“He’s come out of the race well. He’s lost quite a lot of weight, more than usual, but you would expect that after running in that ground in that race,” Ellison said.
“He’ll have a holiday now and we’ll look forward to next season with him. It was a brilliant run.
“It’s not as though Dale (Swift) rode him out the back hoping to pick up some prize-money, he rode him to win the race.“He’s had 11 runs this year now and has come a long way. His last three runs have been in a Group 3, a Listed race and a Group 1.
“He came out of Redcar absolutely bouncing, so we decided we’d let him take his chance at Ascot and, thankfully, it’s worked out.”
While Ellison believes Top Notch Tonto is better on softer ground, he is also of the opinion that it is not essential for his stable-star to endure testing conditions – a factor which opens up more contests next season.
“We’ll see about next year nearer the time,” he added. “There is obviously the Lockinge at Newbury (in May), but that would be ground dependent.
“I think a mile is fine for him, but I wouldn’t put it past him to stay a mile and a quarter.
“He wasn’t stopping the other day, I think he was going away from the third horse. We ride him handy and I think, if we held him up a bit, he’d get a mile and a quarter no problem.”
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