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Carlingford sparkles in Topaz


Wrong Turn, right, goes on to win the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase

Wrong Turn, right, goes on to win the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase

Wrong Turn, right, goes on to win the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase

Carlingford Lough could head straight for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival following his dramatic defeat of Morning Assembly in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

The John Kiely-trained seven-year-old forged clear of the 11-8 favourite along the run-in to provide Tony McCoy with another Grade One success.

Bright New Dawn and My Murphy had made most of the running, but Morning Assembly travelled better than that duo and took the lead at the last fence under Ruby Walsh.

Pat Fahy's Grade One-winning novice looked set fair for another top-level success, but McCoy's mount had been spotted making encouraging progress three out.

Carlingford Lough (5-1) emerged from the chasing pack after the last and threw down a sustained effort which yielded a length-and-a-half verdict at the line.

Kiely said: "The ground was ideal, it was not too soft.

"He's best fresh, so if he goes to Cheltenham I doubt he'll run before that.

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"He's a horse that seems to keep improving all the time.

"His owner (JP McManus) has great patience, which is a big help."

McCoy said: "I probably rode him too aggressively in the Drinmore (second to Don Cossack) as he's inclined to jump a bit to the left.

"He's a good, tough seasoned handicapper at this stage."

Theatre Bird (14-1) gamely made all of the running to take Grade Three honours in the IFG EBF Mares Hurdle over two and a half miles.

Sean Doyle's five-year-old fended off the rather one-paced challenge of 10-11 favourite Upsie, who wilted after the last flight and failed to even make the frame.

Caoimhe's Delight finished second at odds of 33-1, but Bryan Cooper's companion was well on top at the line.

He said: "She was very good the last day at Clonmel and Bryan said he'd plenty up his sleeve in that race.

"A lot of the credit must go to my brother, Donnacha, who does a lot of work with her.

"She'll probably come back here at the end of January and go for a handicap."

Sea Light landed a bit of a touch in the Mongey Communications Novice Handicap Hurdle.

The Charles Byrnes-trained five-year-old brought up a hat-trick here three days ago and again looked the essence of vitality under Davy Russell.

Sea Light, the heavily-backed 4-5 favourite, gained a definitive lead at the top of the home straight and never looked like relinquishing his advantage following a decent jump at the last.

Runner-up Roman General gave chase, but it was all in vain as he finished three and a half lengths adrift of the in-form winner.

Byrnes said: "He stays well and could step up in trip. The race was not really run to suit him."

Shanahan's Turn (2-1 joint-favourite) turned in a most accomplished display to claim the Ryanair Maiden Hurdle.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead and ridden by Andrew Lynch, the Irish point-to-point recruit readily accounted for Blue Bicycle in what looked quite an informative heat.

Stoney nudged into the front two flights from home after Masterofdeception had initiated a fair pace.

But his position of authority was short-lived as Shanahan's Turn glided into a lead which stretched to four and three-quarters of a length by the winning line.

De Bromhead said: "I was a bit disappointed with him at Down Royal, but he needed further.

"He jumps well and will go chasing next season."

Wrong Turn survived a lengthy stewards' inquiry to win the opening Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase.

The Tony Martin-trained 5-1 joint-favourite defeated Mackeys Forge by a neck, but there was scrimmaging after the two horses jumped the last in unison.

Although Wrong Turn and Mackeys Forge got close along the run-in, the local stewards left the places unaltered.

Martin was quick to praise 4lb claiming jockey Shane Shortall for getting Wrong Turn home by such a slender margin.

He said: "Shane is good value for his claim and has a good head on him.

"He (Wrong Turn) is a good leaper for a novice."

Philip Fenton looks to have another nice horse in his care after Value At Risk (7-4) followed up a victory at Fairyhouse in the concluding bumper.

Fenton said: "He travelled better than at Fairyhouse. He's a chaser in the making and we'll probably stay at home this year."

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