Tonto still to show his true colours

Top Notch Tonto ridden by Dale Swift (right) (Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire).
Top Notch Tonto ridden by Dale Swift (right) (Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire).
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KEITH BROWN believes his horse of a lifetime Top Notch Tonto did not show his true colours when trailing in last to French champion Solow in Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

However, he confirmed that the Brian Ellison-trained five-year-old will round off the 2015 campaign in a Listed race at 
Newmarket on Saturday week 
before stepping up in trip next year.

Second in the 2013 QEII Stakes before being unplaced last year, Swanland-based Brown believes the hold-up tactics did not play to the strengths of the bay gelding who has become one of the most popular horses on the Flat because his colour almost matches his brown silks.

“The horse ran very well, and was only beaten four and three-quarter lengths,” the ever enthusiastic owner told The Yorkshire Post. “He came out of the stalls, the jockey (Silvestre de Sousa) took a pull and stayed there. It was a bit of a non-event. Gabrial came third for Richard Fahey – all credit to them – but we have raced that horse three times and beaten it three times.”

One of those occasions came in the Ian and Kate Hall Macmillan Ganton Stakes in June when the horse surged to victory on the back of the vociferous cheers of a partisan crowd on the Knavesmire.

“The field came back to us, but he changed gear and exploded away. It was very special,” added Brown, who grew up on Hull’s Hessle Road. “You should have seen all the spectators wanting photographs, and our autographs, at Ascot. That was very special. He has hundreds and hundreds of fans, it’s non-stop. People follow him everywhere.

“It’s a dream. I’ve been in racing for 40 years. I’m not pleading poverty but it is a privilege to be competing in the races that we are competing. He’s five and I think the horse is just coming into his prime.

“After a tough race, you take him back to his box, he eats his nuts, lies downs and goes to sleep. I’m still hoping that he can perform at a decent level for several seasons.”

Already the winner of nearly £450,000 from 36 starts, and having cost just four figures as a yearling, Brown believes the horse’s maturity means that he can step up in trip from a mile to a mile and a half.

“Brian is keen to take him to Dubai in March. He’s quite exposed over a mile, but if we can get him up to a mile and a half, there rare a lot more opportunities.”

David O’Meara’s Mondialiste has been confirmed for the $2m Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, Kentucky, on Saturday week.

The Nawton trainer’s first ever runner at America’s flagship meeting, Mondialiste heads to the USA on the back of wins at Pontefract, the Strensall Stakes at York’s Ebor festival and then the Grade One Woodbine Mile Stakes at Toronto last month.

Roger Charlton’s Time test is the only other British representative in the race.

However, Postponed – winner of the Great Voltigeur Stakes at the 2014 Ebor festival before landing this summer’s King George at Ascot – will miss America’s Breeders’ Cup Turf after scoping dirty following a workout yesterday.

Retired Yorkshire jockeys Keith Mercer and Niall Hannity are among the nominees for next month’s JETS awards which honour the memory of rider Richard Davis who was killed in a fall nearly 20 years ago.

The scheme helps provide employment, career and training opportunities for riders when they are no longer competing – Mercer, who won the 2005 Scottish National on Joes Edge, is studying accountancy at Teesside University while Hannity is a Flat agent and Racing UK pundit.

The awards will be presented at Cheltenham on November 15 by the now retired 20-times champion jockey AP McCoy who is in the process of setting up his own mentoring and motivation service for his former weighing room colleagues, and which will be run in conjunction with the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Cheltenham Racecourse has announced that there will be a 40-minute interval between revery race at next year’s National Hunt Festival.

Meanwhile, the new mares’ novice hurdle will be named in honour of the iconic Dawn Run who is still the only horse in history to have won both the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup.

Her heartstopping win over Monica Dickinson’s gallant Wayward Lad in the 1986 Gold Cup inspired one of the late, great Sir Peter O’Sullevan’s most evocative commentaries.