Coko Beach is heading to Aintree once again after dominant showing at Punchestown
Fourth to stablemate Death Duty in this 12 months ago, the eight-year-old went on to finish a well-held eighth behind Noble Yeats in the Randox Grand National two runs later and could now follow a similar path having found the scoresheet for the first time since February 2021. The classy grey arrived at the Kildare track on the back of a respectable fourth in the Thyestes at Gowran last month and was sent off the shortest of the four Cullentra House representatives at 7-1. Never far from the pace in the hands of Ben Harvey, he edged his way to the front travelling with plenty of zest at four out. Sam Curling's 15-8 favourite Angels Dawn was also moving menacingly into contention and looked a real threat when moving to Coko Beach's tail three out. However, the race was soon over as a contest when Angels Dawn unshipped Cian Quirke at the second-last and all that the blinkered Coko Beach had to do was burn off the retreating Stones And Roses and storm up the straight for a commanding five-and-a-half-length success over the defending champion Death Duty, with Defi Bleu the bronze medallist a further half length back. Both Paddy Power and Betfair went 33-1 from 66s for the Grand National on April 15, and Elliott confirmed Aintree was on the agenda. He said: "We said we'd ride him a little bit more restrained today, just take our time a little bit more as we've been making a lot of use of him lately. "I thought he ran a good race, he jumped well and he said when he got to the front he didn't do a stroke. He gave the last a big jump and it's nice to win it. "I'd imagine he'll go to Aintree, there's not much at Cheltenham for him. I'd imagine they'll all be heading towards the Nationals, English and Irish. "The winner runs his race all the time and is a grand horse. He finished eighth in the National last year and was right there until the third-last. "Death Duty ran well, he said he would have been bang there only for missing the fourth- and third-last. "He's a good horse but he's not easy to train"
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