Trip into unknown for Top Notch Tonto

TOP NOTCH Tonto will attempt to live up to his name in tonight’s Cantor Fitzgerald Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown – a prestigious race that pays homage to one of the all-time greats of the sport.

The heavy rain will be a major plus for Brian Ellison’s stable star who relishes soft underfoot conditions. The unknown is the trip – this is Top Notch Tonto’s first crack at 10 furlongs.

However, East Yorkshire owner Keith Brown is relatively relaxed – especially if Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Remote is withdrawn because of the testing conditions.

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“He’s going to get his ground, which is the main thing,” said Brown. “We thought that would be the case in the Lockinge at Newbury, but it ended up being like a road and that obviously didn’t suit him. Time will tell if he gets that trip, but Brian seems pretty confident he will.”

The relentless rain is beginning to play havoc with Flat racing – last night’s meeting at Beverley was abandoned.

Meanwhile, the likelihood of soft ground for the Epsom Derby on Saturday week has prompted trainer Jamie Osborne, who grew up at Boston Spa, to withdraw UAE Derby winner Toast of New York.

Osborne has now set his sights on the Belmont Derby Invitational at the New York track on July 5.

“There was always a bit of a doubt at the back of our minds about him getting a mile and a half at this stage of his career and we felt his best chance of staying was if the ground was quite quick. However, that looks highly unlikely now,” he said.

“The Derby can be a bit of a graveyard for some horses and I don’t want to end up there with him. To have a runner in the Derby would be a dream, but we don’t want to just have runners, we want to have winners in the big races.

“If we campaign him sensibly, there’s no reason why he couldn’t turn into a top-class globe-trotting runner next year. Horses like him don’t come along often.”