Stable newcomer claims feature
A change of environment has worked wonders for the widelytravelled stayer Gentil Tonton.
The Irish-bred son of Yeats was making just his second start for trainer John Bell, who now also owns the gelding, when he came from the back of the field to triumph in Saturday’s Listed Woods Contracting Taumarunui Gold Cup at Rotorua.
‘‘When they come into a new stable they can sometimes grow another leg,’’ Bell said. ‘‘He’s a lovely horse.’’
A two-time winner in his native Ireland for Patrick Prendergast, Gentil Tonton then had one start in Hong Kong for Gary Moore before he transferred to the Cambridge stable of Trevor and Martin Cruz.
He was successful three times for the brothers and a further victory was posted from the yard of Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott prior to him joining Bell’s operation.
As is his style, Gentil Tonton settled toward the back of the field on Saturday under leading apprentice Sam Weatherley before they improved near the home turn. A well-timed finish saw them score by half a length. ‘‘Young Sam rode him a treat, he’s not the easiest horse to ride,’’ Bell said.
Weatherley, who had ridden Gentil Tonton on four previous occasions, was true to his word at Rotorua.
‘‘When Sam found out we were getting the horse he rang for the ride and said he’d win the cup and he has,’’ Bell said.
‘‘We’ll look for something for him now without travelling too far.’’
Gentil Tonton accounted for Pump Up The Volume, the runnerup 12 months ago behind Jochen Rindt, who was a game third in his title defence.
● Meanwhile a new kid on the jumping block has given a number of his more experienced and better-performed rivals plenty to think about.
In just his second appearance over fences, Monarch Chimes made his mark in open company at Rotorua with an excellent display to claim top honours in the Harcourts Taumarunui Hurdle.
Ridden by Shaun Phelan, the Shinko King five-year-old comfortably accounted for the reigning Grand National Hurdles champion Ngario and Raisafuasho, a fourtime winner over hurdles.
“It was a big step up for him and he was up against a few guns so it was lovely to see how well he finished off,” said Emma-Lee Browne, who trains the gelding with her husband David.
“We were in two minds whether to go back to the flat, but he just loves his jumping so much.”
Monarch Chimes’ performance, which came off the back of his novice hurdle win at Te Aroha, has firmed plans to target the Schweppes Great Northern Hurdles at Ellerslie on September 9.
Monarch Chimes travelled easily behind the pace before he cruised up to challenge 400 metres from home and he drew clear to beat Ngario, who will improve with his first jumps outing of the season under his belt, by three and a-quarter lengths.
Taumaranui Gold Cup winner Gentil Tonton with rider Sam Weatherley.