Coko Beach chose a good day to gain a first win over fences, the six-year-old doing so with a classy performance in the €100,000 Goffs Thyestes Chase, the feature at Gowran Park.
It was a second win in the race for trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Jack Kennedy, the pair having combined to win the race with another Gigginstown House Stud-owner runner, Monbeg Notorious in 2018. And for good measure, Elliott also saddled runner-up Run Wild Fred.
The grey, the youngster runner in the race, had his first outing in a chase in October and ran some good races in defeat, but the application of blinkers for the first time seemed to sweeten him up and he moved particularly well through the extremely testing conditions.
Although unproven over the three-mile-one trip, he was able to lie up quite handy and when he hit the front at the third-last fence, Kennedy was happy to send him for home. Brilliant across the final fence, he galloped on strongly to win emphatically.
Class Conti, who was runner-up in the race last year, returned to that sort of form but was ultimately no match for the winner. He conceded second place to Run Wild Fred on the run-in. Willie Mullins, who trains Class Conti, also saddled the fourth and fifth, Saturnas and Acapella Bourgeois.
“It was brilliant,” said Kennedy. “Gordon was fairly hopeful he’d run a big race, so he gave me a little push to go with him, and I’m delighted I listened. The blinkers made a massive difference. That was his first time wearing them. He’s probably been going around in small fields in beginners’ chases and probably lacking a little bit of concentration. The big field today and the blinkers sharpened him up an awful lot. He jumped and travelled a lot better.
“He’s always been a very good jumper, even when he was running in juvenile hurdles he was a very natural jumper and always going to be a chaser, so I wasn’t worried about it being his first handicap.
“When Monbeg Notorious won the race, that was his big day, but I’d be fairly hopeful that this lad can go on and maybe win a couple more nice pots."