Bishop Looney answers Nagle's prayers
HAVING been controversially awarded the race in the stewards' room after Alickdoo initially passed the post in second in 2008, local handler Tom Nagle enjoyed a more clear-cut success in the Cork Grand National with The Bishop Looney yesterday.
A once decent novice hurdler that won a Grade Three at the Mallow venue in December '08, Nagle's seven-year-old came back to form over two miles at Galway a fortnight ago.
That was just his fourth outing over fences, and he confirmed himself to still be on the right side of the handicapper by battling bravely under Tom Doyle to deny Another Palm and Paul Carberry in the gruelling three-and-a-half-mile Paddypower.com-sponsored feature.
Doyle had positioned The Bishop Looney, which returned at 6/1, on the heels of the leaders from the outset. When Tullintain fell in front at the fourth-last, the partnership narrowly avoided the stricken horse, as Another Palm took up the running.
Carberry looked to have plenty in hand on that one, but Doyle galvanised a fine run out of his mount to lead at the final fence. While Another Palm refused to go away, The Bishop Looney always looked to be doing enough to secure the €32,500 pot, with Indifference Curve taking third.
"He's a classy little horse," Nagle said, "But he thinks about things a lot. Tom was brilliant on him, because you can't force him to jump. I don't know whether he'll be robust enough for it or not, but the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas is an option."
Noel Meade, who saddled Another Palm, enjoyed an early double with Sam Bass and Sword Of Destiny. The former reversed Gowran Park form with the Doyle-ridden Burrenbridge Lad to justify 11/4 favouritism in the three-year-old hurdle for Carberry.
In the Grade Three novice hurdle, Sword Of Destiny supplemented his Punchestown maiden hurdle rout by posting a facile triumph. The in-form Davy Russell, who went on to record a double on First Lieutenant, held the imposing five-year-old grey up before easing clear two-out.
"Every day he is getting better," Meade said of the Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding, "and you'd like to think he will be a force to be reckoned with when he jumps fences. He could come back here in a few weeks for a similar race, or he might go to Navan for a Grade One."
While First Lieutenant, sent off at 4/6 to atone for a narrow defeat last time, needed all of the two-and-a-half-mile journey in the Grade Three novice chase, Mouse Morris' six-year-old ultimately prevailed with a bit in hand when repelling a game effort from the eventual runner-up Stephanie Kate.
Morris subsequently suggested that he would try to find a similar standard of race for the Cheltenham Festival winner before stepping him up in class at Leopardstown over Christmas.
"He will go to Leopardstown at Christmas with probably one more run before that. He'll be entered for the Drinmore (at Fairyhouse)," he said, "but I'd prefer to avoid the big guns for the moment."
A former Meade inmate, Jetson, was on the mark on his first start for Jessica Harrington in the two-and-half-mile maiden hurdle. The six-year-old son of Oscar got a nice run up the far rail to lead early in the straight and kept on well on the run-in to beat Daring Article by over three lengths
In the day's handicap hurdle, Kirbybroguelantern defied odds of 12/1 to score for Tom Hogan and five-pound claimer Robert Jones. It was the 10-year-old's first win since he collected in Dundalk in February 2009.
Willie and Patrick Mullins combined to land the closing mares' bumper, with newcomer Hats And Heels edging out fellow market leader Andreas Pride. The daughter of Flemensfirth cruised to the front about two furlongs out to score by four and a half lengths.