Tonto Team Reach for the Stars

Prominent owner Keith Brown feels he could have found “the next Top Notch Tonto” ahead of Orewa’s debut at Beverley’s first meeting of the season on Wednesday.

The two-year-old son of Helmet cost Brown 18,000 euro at Tattersalls Ireland last September and is one of eight declarations for the five-furlong Welcome Back To Beverley Novice Auction Stakes (2.35).

Brown’s silks are best known for Top Notch Tonto, the 2013 QEII runner-up who broke his maiden at the second attempt on the Westwood. His owner, who hails from Swanland, East Yorkshire, is also expecting big things from the Brian Ellison-trained Orewa.

Brown said: “He’s the most expensive horse I’ve ever bought, but he’s such a well-bred, lovely colt. All Helmet colts were making around £50k to £75k but this one came out at around 1.45pm, and by that time everyone was knocking back food and drink and I was the only left in the sales hall, so I think we’ve got a bargain. He’s got quite a high action so I hope we don’t get too much more rain, but Beverley is obviously my local track and this looks a good race for him. From what we’ve seen so far, I’m hoping he could be our next Top Notch Tonto. He’s been working really well and is a smashing-looking horse.”

Top Notch Tonto, meanwhile, is reported in top form as the distinctive-looking six-year-old gears up for a return to the track in the bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on April 22.

Brown told “Tonto was really unlucky last year. He obviously won at York, but three other times he was beaten by such a short margin. We’ll start him out in the mile-and-a-quarter race at Sandown and then hopefully kick on from there. He’s as good as ever — Brian is thrilled with him — and I”m hoping for a big year with him.”

Beverley’s seven-race card on Wednesday is due to begin at 2pm, with the official going on Tuesday morning described as good to soft. Feature race is the £11,500 NL Van Truck And Car Hire Handicap (3.10), won last year by 100-rated sprinter Pipers Note. Beverley Racecourse has invested over £800,000 on refurbishments in the close season, while chief executive Sally Iggulden pledged that no class five race all year will be contested for less than £6,000 in prize-money.