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Where are they now ? : Mick O'Toole.

Byline: GARRY OWEN

TRAINER Mick O'Toole was a master of both codes in a glittering career lasting more than 33 years.

Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Davy Lad and Derby runner-up Dickens Hill were just two of the high-class horses he handled.

Yet the first of his 800- winner haul came in the shape of Lintola, who landed a nice little touch for his colourful trainer at Musselburgh shortly after he took out a licence in 1966.

O'Toole, who celebrates his 71st birthday next month said: "I've been back to Musselburgh since that first winner and it brought back many happy memories!

"I had no regrets about retiring. There are plenty of other things in life such as golf and travelling."

A larger-than-life character, O'Toole gave up training three years ago after landing a string of gambles at some of the biggest venues in the racing world.

One of his favourite victories over the old enemy came when Carrig Willy relieved the bookies of over pounds 60,000 when winning the 1980 Sweeps Hurdle.

There was also plenty of cash riding on his eight Cheltenham Festival winners headed, of course, by the Dessie Hughes-ridden 14-1 chance Davy Lad.

The O'Toole camp actually `drew' on 1980 Champion Chase 25-length `winner' Chinrullah although the gelding was later disqualified after failing a dope test due to eating some contaminated feedstuff.

Other O'Toole Festival heroes were Mac's Chariot and Hartstown, who both won the Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle for their Curragh based trainer.

But he was also a top-notch Flat handler as proved by the exploits of Dickens Hill, partnered by the late Tony Murray.

Second to the mighty Troy at Epsom and The Curragh, the colt gained wins in the Irish 2000 Guineas and Coral- Eclipse Stakes either side of his two maulings in the Epsom Derby and Irish equivalent.

Other major races on the level won by O'Toole included the National Stakes and the Ballymoss Stakes by horses such as Noiritza and Park Hill while Faliraki struck another body blow to the bookmakers in the 1975 Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.

These days O'Toole still does a little buying and selling of horses and always looks forward to annual pilgrimages to the big meetings at Cheltenham, Ascot and York.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 31, 2002
Words:376
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