Coko Beach led home a one-two for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud in the Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park.
Elliott and Gigginstown had previously teamed up to win the prestigious handicap with Monbeg Notorious in 2018 and were well represented once more, with Coko Beach one of four runners for the combination, while Gigginstown had seven representatives overall.
Fitted with blinkers for the first time, Coko Beach travelled strongly throughout the three-mile-one-furlong contest in the hands of Jack Kennedy and hit the front early in the home straight.
From that point the 8-1 shot never looked in serious danger of being caught and safely negotiated the remaining obstacles to seal a four-length verdict, with stable companion Run Wild Fred best of the rest in second.
Elliott’s great rival Willie Mullins saddled the third, fourth and fifth in Class Conti, Saturnas and Acapella Bourgeois respectively.
Kennedy, winning the race for a second time after steering Monbeg Notorious home in front three years ago, said of Coko Beach: “He’s been struggling to win a beginners’ chase.
“Gordon asked me the other morning what I’d like to ride in it and I was thinking Farclas, but he didn’t show up here. Gordon fancied this lad and I went with what he said and thank God he was right.
“I got left at the start, but he winged the first and was able to travel well enough to get me into a position. I was handy the whole way and on that ground you are not going to get too many coming from behind.
“The blinkers sharpened him up an awful lot and he travelled a lot better than he has been.
“It’s a big race and one of the biggest handicaps of the year, so it’s great to win it.”
Coko Beach’s odds for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival were widely slashed, and Elliott’s assistant Ian ‘Busty’ Amond confirmed that contest as a likely target.
He said: “Gordon was sweet enough on him and Jack picked him. The blinkers obviously did the trick – he jumped great and travelled great and he was the winner from a long way out.
“I’d imagine he will be on the team for Cheltenham after that and I think the National Hunt Chase is the one Gordon has in mind. He’ll have a few easy days after this and we might have a look at the Irish National as well.
“Sean (Flanagan) was delighted with Run Wild Fred. He was never going to get to your man in front, but he kept at it well and there should be a big day in him as well.”
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