Cullen's Lady pounces on line
John Cullen hung up his riding boots to concentrate on training at the end of July and that decision reaped a fine dividend yesterday when Misty Lady claimed the Ladbrokes Island Handicap Hurdle in pulsating fashion.
A day after Rogue Angel regained the lead in the shadow of the Listowel post after making most of the running in the Kerry National, Cullen's game six-year-old mare got up to deny Lilly The Lioness in almost identical style.
Sean Flanagan had set the early fractions aboard Misty Lady in the two-miler, and his willing partner dug deep to get back up by a nose in a four-way driving finish after being passed earlier in the straight.
Cruelly, given that it was he who was aboard the thwarted Urano 24 hours earlier, Paul Townend again was the man foiled on Lilly The Lioness. In contrast, by securing the €36,000 winner's share of the spoils, the Imelda Lynch-owned Misty Lady was providing Cullen with his most lucrative triumph in his new vocation.
Moreover, she was also landing a touch, returning an SP of 10/1, having been as big as 20/1 early on. "I have been training for a few years but this is the first year I won't be riding as well," the ecstatic Wexford native relayed.
"I have a job training for Joey Logan on the Curragh now and that is my first win since moving. It's always important to have winners at these big festivals. This mare is as tough as nails - I am very lucky to have her."
Flanagan, another Wexford man, added of Misty Lady: "She didn't help me early on but she stuck at it in the finish. John is a good friend so I am delighted to ride a winner for him."
Clare-based Daniel Howard rode and trained the evens favourite Archie Meade to victory in the beginners' chase. In what was another dramatic contest, Brian O'Connell got cannoned into by the eventual third Rightville Boy after parting company with the tiring Marvellous Moment at the last.
While O'Connell was flung into the railing, he emerged unscathed, and Archie Meade had just been getting on top at the time of the fall. The winner will now tackle the Munster National.
Willie Mullins's odds-on Fugi Mountain was a fourth winning favourite in the bumper. Tadaany (7/4) had readily got the day off to a fine start for market leaders, with Snakes And Ladders (4/1 fav) following up for Niall Madden and Fran Berry in the following handicap.