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Don deal on debut

TOFINO BAY'S class saw him overcome his inexperience to continue the brilliant run of trainer Dessie Hughes, jockey Davy Russell and owner Gigginstown House Stud and win the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan yesterday.

It was always set to be a big day for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud at Navan yesterday as he unleashed a four-pronged attack on the Troytown and the exciting Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack made his debut over hurdles.

In all, Gigginstown had 12 declared runners on the card and although Torn Asunder and Bonisland both failed to justify favouritism in the opening two races, the two highlights of the day went the way of the Ryanair supremo.

Dessie Hughes was winning the Troytown for the first time as either a trainer or a jockey and admitted to being anxious in the closing stages when Russell had dropped his stick and resorted to his bare hand to encourage the game eight-year-old to a half a length success over the Tony McCoy-ridden Like Your Style.

Hughes said afterwards: "That was a good performance by a novice, especially on just his third start over fences, but he loves that ground. It's hard to find a horse that likes heavy ground but he loves it and that was a big help out there today."


Such a liking for testing conditions is likely to rule him out of an obvious spring target.

"I don't think he will be a National horse as the ground is likely to be too quick by then - if it wasn't we might look at it," Hughes added.

Depending on the handicapper's assessment after yesterday's success, Hughes is likely to target one of the handicap chases at Leopardstown over Christmas rather than contest Grade Ones.

While there are many races to be won for Tofino Bay - and big races at that - the real potential star on show at Navan yesterday was Don Cossack.

Without any question of a doubt, Gordon Elliott's three-time bumper winner was the main horse to take out of yesterday's action as he continues to live up to a lofty reputation and he simply couldn't have been more impressive on his hurdling debut.

Grade One company now awaits after Russell never had to get too serious on the way to recording a nine-and-a-half length victory over highly regarded Sizing Gold.

"It was nice to get that out of the way and Davy said he idled in front and he was very happy with him. He will probably come back here for the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles in three weeks. We will definitely be stepping him up in trip," Elliott revealed.

There was some ever so slight compensation for Noel Meade and his team as Busty Brown landed the Grade Two Irish Form Book Monksfield Novice Hurdle.

Meade was rocked by the sad loss of Go Native on Friday morning but ended the weekend with a double, instigated by Busty Brown and completed by Sword Of Destiny in the beginners' chase.


Sword Of Destiny completed a Gigginstown House and Russell treble and has always been held in high regard by Meade who did admit that the Drinmore was now an unlikely option but added: "I think this is a hell of a horse."

The concluding listed mares' bumper was won in good style by the John Kiely-trained and Colm Motherway-ridden Joanne One who went one better than her debut start to land the lucrative prize.