O’Toole has Crawford purring at Down Royal

Stuart Crawford could not hide the regard in which he holds O’Toole following an easy winning debut over obstacles in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal.

Bought by the powerful owning partnership of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede after winning a Fairyhouse bumper in Crawford’s colours, he went on to be second to Kilcruit at the Punchestown Festival.

JJ Slevin was never far from the front on the 4-9 favourite and urged his mount to quicken with two furlongs to run.

And without Slevin having to get too serious, O’Toole went on to win by seven and a half lengths.

Crawford said: “He has probably grown, he’s a wee bit bigger and stronger. Sure, we had to start somewhere and that was an ideal race to start on our doorstep.

“He’s just a big, laid back, easy-going horse. We will just try to place him sensibly over hurdles this year.

“I really can’t wait to jump fences with him, but we’ll not get too far ahead of ourselves.

“He will come on plenty for that and the further he goes the better he will be. He has a great temperament, in so far as he is laid back, so you can probably put him where you want to in a race.

“He had plenty of schooling done to go point-to-pointing and he is not a natural hurdler as he is probably a big clean jumper.

“I would be hoping I’d be here talking to you after the (Grade One) James Nicholson one day.

“We will all meet up and talk about where he might end up in the spring. We know he will handle better ground, but he needs a bit of experience as well.

“I’d imagine we will not be over-racing him this season. He will want a step up in trip in a higher grade. In the lower grade of race, probably the trip is not as important. When we start taking on the better horses we probably will step up in trip.

“He’s in a handful of the most exciting horses certainly in Ireland this winter. He’s a proper Gold Cup type of horse, I hope. He’s a big staying chaser. He’s not a slow horse and he will furnish more for another summer. He is improving all the time.

“We don’t want to get to the bottom of him this season. He’s still a big baby really. He’s a horse at home you could put anyone on him to ride. He’s a pleasure to train.

“Daryl Jacob got injured a week ago and he has missed out on a few of these horses to ride which is a shame for him. He has put a bit of work into them, he has been over.”

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