Carlingford Lough repeats Gold Cup heroics

Saturday was Irish Gold Cup Day at Leopardstown and who would have thought that a repeat of last year's race was on the cards?

Carlingford Lough repeats Gold Cup heroics

Carlingford Lough bounced back to form as he capitalised on the dramatic final-fence exit of Valseur Lido to win the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown for the second year running.

After giving the now-retired Sir Anthony McCoy his one and only success in this race 12 months ago, the John Kiely-trained 10-year-old was an unfancied scorer 20-1 this time round in the hands of Mark Walsh.

Carlingford Lough was at the rear for most of the Grade One over an extended three miles but was coming into contention approaching the final fence, which the Willie Mullins-trained Valseur Lido hit hard.

He was on his nose and gave Ruby Walsh no chance of staying in the saddle.

Noel Meade's Road To Riches (5-4 favourite) was left briefly in front, but he had no answer to Carlingford Lough, who went on to score by 12 lengths with Fine Rightly (33-1) running a huge race in third.

RaceBets gave the winner a 16-1 from 50-1 quote for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and went 25-1 from 66-1 for the Grand National. BoyleSports cut Kiely's star to 16-1 from 33-1 for the Timico-sponsored blue riband on March 18.

Coral went 20-1 from 66-1 and Ladbrokes 25-1 from 50-1.

Walsh came in for the ride as owner JP McManus' retained jockey Barry Geraghty plumped for Gilgamboa, who finished fifth.

The winning rider said: "I didn't think I was going to win three out.

"They went a hell of a gallop the whole way and I was never travelling, never happy with him at all.

"I just kept going gently with him, but at the third-last I thought I was going nowhere and I was nearly going to pull up.

"I just kept tipping away and once I jumped the second-last the others stopped in front of me and he kept galloping.

"He stuck his head down and sprinted, winged the last and just galloped home to the line.

"I was the one that was quickening when Ruby hadn't gone for Valseur Lido, but I'm pretty confident I would have won anyway.

"It was a brilliant feeling. To be going round there thinking you had no chance and considering pulling up at one stage and then to win by 12 lengths - it was just brilliant. He's a good horse to do that."

McCoy said: "It was a good performance. He came home well and he might have won anyway. I know Ruby's mount got rid of him at the last, but the way he come home from the last he'd have been hard to beat."

Surprised

Kiely admitted being surprised at the outcome.

"I didn't think he could win two Irish Gold Cups," he said.

"He was in good form, but I was just hoping to be in the first four. I told Mark to ride him to finish, and it worked.

"I think he won despite the ground, and if he was up with the pace I don't think he would have got home.

"Going to the last you could see he was finding a new lease of life, and I thought he had a chance then. It's lovely for Mark as he's done a lot of the ground work.

"We'll see how he comes out of the race before deciding what to do, and we'll see what JP and Frank (Berry, racing manager) want to do."

Mullins, meanwhile, felt Valseur Lido ran a fine trial for Cheltenham, despite his blip.

He said: "He didn't look like he was stopping, so he's booked his ticket for the Gold Cup I thought there. Connections (Gigginstown House Stud) would have a lot of runners in the Gold Cup and Ryanair, but to me he wants every bit of the trip.

Lifetime bans to be imposed in Ireland for drug missue

A lifetime ban for any horse who has been illicitly administered prohibited substances and increased frequency of out of competition testing are two of the main recommendations from a report published by Horse Racing Ireland.

The Irish Thoroughbred Industry Anti-Doping Task Force was set up following the disqualification of trainer Philip Fenton in 2014 after he was found to have banned animal substances in his possession. In response the HRI board, in conjunction with the Turf Club, established a 16-member industry-wide Anti-Doping Task Force, chaired by HRI vice-chair and now senior steward of the Turf ClubMeta Osborne.

The findings of the report have now been made public with the main recommendation being a lifetime ban from Irish racing for horses administered a banned drug at any time, anywhere in the world.

Outlander strikes in Flogas Chase

Outlander gave Willie Mullins a Grade One hat-trick at Leopardstown when ploughing through the testing conditions to run out a convincing winner of the Flogas Novice Chase.

After striking with Footpad and Bleu Et Rouge in the previous two big races on the card, the Mullins' domination continued as Outlander (13-8 favourite) took his unbeaten record over fences to three.

The winner's stablemate Pont Alexandre set the pace and was still in front turning for home, but by this time Outlander was going much the better in the hands of Bryan Cooper.

The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding pulled away from the last to score comfortably by two and three-quarter lengths.

THIRD SPOT

Monksland, trained by Noel Meade, stayed on to claim third spot from Pont Alexandre.

Mullins said: "It was a good battle with Pont Alexandre and then Pont just seemed to fold, whereas Outlander just galloped and jumped and that's what he does.

"I'm looking forward now to next month with him at Cheltenham.

“He's coming on all the time. He stays and jumps which is what you want in a good horse. He could go either way (JLT or RSA), and whatever way the owners want to go I'll be happy.”