Tag Archive for: O’Toole

Ballycoose ’50-50′ for Jonbon clash at Haydock

Stuart Crawford will wait until later in the week before deciding whether to allow Ballycoose to take on Jonbon in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock.

A £570,000 purchase by leading owner JP McManus, Jonbon is a hot favourite to extend his unbeaten record for Nicky Henderson in the Grade Two contest.

Ballycoose is also yet to taste defeat, but would be stepping up in class if given the green light to travel to Merseyside following wins in a Down Royal bumper and a maiden hurdle at Ayr.

Crawford said: “I’d say it’s 50-50 as to whether he’ll run. If he doesn’t go to Haydock, he’ll probably go to Down Royal next Tuesday.

“You’d hope the race at Down Royal might be a bit easier, but there’s nothing easy these days!

“He’s a nice horse and a horse for next season really. We won’t get too excited and too ambitious this season, I wouldn’t think.”

The County Antrim handler also provided an update on another exciting novice owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede in O’Toole.

O'Toole looks a bright prospect for Stuart Crawford
O’Toole looks a bright prospect for Stuart Crawford (Michael Graham)

Having split the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Kilcruit and Sir Gerhard when runner-up in the Grade One bumper at Punchestown last spring, the six-year-old bolted up on his hurdling bow at Down Royal.

“He might end up in the auction series races in Ireland,” Crawford added.

“There’s a novice hurdle coming up in early February and that might be his next appearance. The final of the series is at Punchestown, so that could be a realistic target for him this season.

“They’re two very similar horses. You’d be looking forward to them going over fences sometime.”

O’Toole target under discussion following victorious hurdles bow

Connections will take their time in planning the next move for the promising O’Toole after his first hurdling triumph in a maiden event at Down Royal.

The Stuart Crawford-trained six-year-old has hardly put a foot wrong in three starts to date, winning his bumper debut by 15 lengths at Fairyhouse in February before coming home behind Kilcruit in the Grade One bumper at Punchestown in April.

The Down Royal contest was the Isaac Souede and Simon Munir-owned chestnut’s first run over hurdles and he did not disappoint, comfortably justifying his status as the 4-9 favourite with an impressive seven-and-a-half-length victory.

“It was a good wee exercise, it was a good starting point at our local track and not only that, there was good prize-money in that particular race, too,” Crawford said.

“With all of those things we couldn’t have been happier with how the horse has gone, he’s taken it all in his stride so we’ll plot our next target now.”

O’Toole is a chasing prospect for the yard and while his sole hurdles run ended in a taking victory, he will not be heavily campaigned over the smaller obstacles as his future career over fences is prioritised.

“We’d be very wary of over-facing him too much this term, hopefully he can develop into being a Grade One horses over fences,” said Crawford.

“That’s what he was bought to do and hopefully he can fulfil that someday.

“Anyone that watched him there the other day definitely would regard him as chaser in the making, he’s jumping his hurdles, he’s not hurdling them.

“He’s big, clean jumper and that’s that’s definitely what we’re going to be viewing him as, longer-term anyway.”

Although there are no confirmed targets at present, a trip across the Irish Sea could be an option and the going is not likely to dictate the gelding’s next move.

“There’d be a couple of different options there for him, he could very well end up going across to the north of England for a novice hurdle over there and get a bit more experience that way. Our plans are open, we haven’t thought too far ahead just yet,” Crawford said.

“Hopefully there’s a lot to look forward to with him and hopefully he’s a horse that wouldn’t be ground dependent either.

“He’d handle softer ground and in the spring he’s proven he’ll go on nicer, better ground as well.”

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.”