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Tonto’s Spirit enters Cartmel record books

Tonto’s Spirit won for a record-equalling seventh time at Cartmel when taking the Peter Beaumont Memorial Handicap Chase.

The Dianne Sayer-trained gelding joined Harriet Graham’s Soul Magic, whose victories came between 2011 and 2013, as the most successful horse at the Cumbrian track.

Making all the running in the hands of Conor O’Farrell, Tonto’s Spirit (7-2) kept all challengers at bay with a determined display that saw the nine-year-old prevail by three lengths from staying-on Dino Velvet, with Ming Dynasty third.

Sayer said: “It was fabulous, I’m absolutely delighted. He is so game and I thought last time he was here when he was second, he had a very hard run and I was worried he had, to a certain extent, broken his heart.

“I tried him back on the Flat to cheer him up, but he wouldn’t have that at all. Once that tape went up and he jumped that first fence, I thought ‘he’s enjoying this’.

“Bottom-weight helped him massively because it would take some good horse to go with him on 10st over these fences. It was a very good race.”

It was a fitting result in a race named in memory of the North Yorkshire trainer who died in March 2020. Beaumont had many top steeplechasers in his care, including 1993 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Jodami, 1999 Scottish National winner Young Kenny and 2002 Royal And Sun Alliance Chase victor Hussard Collonges.

“We were delighted and privileged to have a runner in that race, as Peter Beaumont is such a legend in our sport,” said Sayer, whose stables are about 40 miles away from the track at Hackthorpe.

“He was very prolific all of my youth and he was always very kind to me, so to win the race was amazing.”

Sayer hopes to bring Tonto’s Spirit back to Cartmel to try for an eighth course win.

“We’ll be doing our best to get him back next year, hopefully,” she added.

“He won his novice hurdle here and has always loved this track. My late brother Ken (Slack) made him what he is so as long as keeps winning at Cartmel, Ken is never far away.”

Jodami, one of the great horses trained by the late Peter Beaumont
Jodami, one of the great horses trained by the late Peter Beaumont (Gareth Copley/PA)

Beaumont loved coming to Cartmel, as his daughter, Anthea Leigh, the clerk of the course, told Racing TV.

“Dad died 11 days into the first lockdown – not from Covid, he just died peacefully in his sleep fairly unexpectedly,” she said.

“Because of everything we haven’t been able to give him a proper funeral and send-off and the time has gone for him to have a memorial service, but he would love this (having a race named in his honour) at a course he loved.

“He used to come here to Cartmel – there’s lots of happy memories from Cartmel and it meant a lot to dad.
“He was very understated and very modest.”