Walsh delivers A Toi to strike
A Toi Phil came out best of the Gordon Elliott trio in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown.
A Toi Phil and Ruby Walsh clear the last fence on the way to victory in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase at Punchestown.
Highly regarded by Willie Mullins last season, he was only an 8/1 chance in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and scored on his chasing debut for Elliott at Down Royal.
He was one of three runners in the race for Gigginstown House Stud, but Bryan Cooper chose to ride Noel Meade's Disko, who was let down by his jumping on this occasion.
Ruby Walsh benefited from Cooper's decision to look elsewhere and having bided his time in the rear, as the runners emerged from the thick fog at the second-last fence, he had jumped alongside Nambour at the head of affairs.
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Once clear over the final fence, the 3/1 winner powered away to win by seven lengths from stablemate Jetstream Jack.
Elliott said: "We had a one-two so we're happy. The horses ran well. You've seen as much as I've seen! When he got the gap going to the second-last he quickened through it and was gone.
"He won well. Ruby said he travelled and jumped well. The Drinmore will be the plan now, all being well.
"I'd say he just doesn't want bottomless heavy ground and Ruby said that's as soft as he'd want it.
"That's a Grade Two and he won it well, so all he can do is improve from it."
Walsh added: "I don't know if he was the highest-rated of these over hurdles, but he'd certainly run to the highest level of these over hurdles, so you could argue he was entitled to win.
"We always thought a fair bit of him when he was at Willie's, so hopefully he'll go on from this."
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