Tony McCoy steers clear of trouble as he lands Grade One Topaz on Carlingford Lough

John Kiely-trained seven-year-old upsets 11/8 favourite Morning Assembly

Tony McCoy may wince when examining a re-run of yesterday’s big-race at Leopardstown but the legendary rider wasted no time getting over Jezki’s defeat and secured a Grade One triumph over Ruby Walsh just over an hour later with Carlingford Lough in the Topaz Novice Chase.

Winner of the Galway Plate during the summer, the John Kiely-trained star translated his big-race quality to top-flight winter status and had a length and a half in hand of the favourite Morning Assembly at the line in the €75,000 contest.

After getting pocketed by Danny Mullins in the Ryanair Hurdle, McCoy resolutely kept to the outer in the big chase and despite a less than fluent jump at the last, Carlingford Lough stayed on best to earn quotes of as low as 12/1 for the RSA at Cheltenham in March.

That’s no mean achievement for a horse that took nine attempts to win over fences but McCoy felt that that experience paid off yesterday. “He’s probably better at this trip (3m) and he has experience which served him well,” he said after another Grade One victory for his boss JP McManus.


Kiely deflected speculation about an RSA attempt – “we’ll do what we’re told” – but added: “He’s a horse with a year’s experience and that was a big help. He’s learned a lot. We learned a bit from his last run (Drinmore Chase) when he got there a bit too soon. We can thank the jockey. He produced him at the right time.”

Co Wexford-based trainer Seán Doyle won't be able to hold a full training licence for 18 months, starting in February, after a Turf Club investigation found a "misuse of his restricted trainers licence" when Doyle misled the regulatory body that he was the trainer of two particular horses when he wasn't.

Star mare
However, while he can the prominent point-to-point trainer is cracking on with his star mare Theatre Bird and she could come back to Leopardstown for a handicap at the end of January, but as a Grade Three winner following an all-the-way victory in yesterday's EBF hurdle. Bryan Cooper's mount was always holding Upsie who faded dramatically to fourth in the closing stages.

“We’ve had a rough old time lately but we know she’s a very good mare,” Doyle said. “She could come back here for a handicap, and then I hope the owner puts her in foal and we have her back in a year and a half!”

Afterwards Doyle was fined €130 by the stewards for failing to lodge Theatre Bird's passport. The horse was allowed run on condition the trainer forwarded the passport to Horse Racing Ireland for verification within three working days.

Henry De Bromhead is blaming himself for Sizing Europe's eclipse here on Friday but confirmed his stable star could go straight to Cheltenham for another crack at the March festival where he's won twice before. The trainer was speaking after Shanahan's Turn landed the maiden hurdle and added: "I got the tactics horribly wrong the other day, in terms of going off at that pace on that ground and in the conditions. But the horse is fine and we'll see what we do. He might even go straight to Cheltenham."

Charles Byrnes plans to get Sea Light out before that and the pony-sized runner will be looking for four-in-a-row after winning his second race of the festival in yesterday's handicap. A messy pace couldn't prevent Davy Russell's mount taking the race by the scruff of the neck at the second last and Sea Light was well in command at the line.

Value At Risk dug deep to hold Draco in the bumper under Robbie Kiely while Wrong Turn survived an accident-filled opportunity chase, and a subsequent stewards enquiry after he and the runner-up Mackeys Forge bumped on the run-in. The latter’s jockey Ian McCarthy got a three-day ban for his use of the whip.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column