Loughran makes amends on Central House
Racing: Roger Loughran banished the memory of a controversial defeat as he guided Central House to an emphatic success in the Byrne Group plc Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.
Loughran picked up a 14-day ban over Christmas when he seemingly had a Grade One event at Leopardstown sewn up on Central House, only to mistake the winning post and eventually finish third.
However, Central House's owner John Kenny and trainer Dessie Hughes stuck by the young jockey and he repaid their faith with a canny front-running ride aboard the 11-4 shot.
At the head of affairs throughout, Central House looked in danger as Accordion Etoile and Watson Lake loomed up at the second last but he found an extra gear and pulled away to notch a six-length success over the staying-on Jim.
Leading novice Accordion Etoile plugged on for third while 9-4 favourite Watson Lake was a disappointing fourth.
"This is the high point of my career so far," Loughran said. "Everything has worked out OK in the end. The horse was brilliant today. The ban seemed like a very long time to be sat on the sidelines but the connections have stood by me and I'm very grateful.
"Dessie Hughes is a very fair man and he's stood behind me the whole way - he's been brilliant. Dessie told me he can go along at any pace I wanted and that's what I did today on him. He could have done with some company but he's picked up twice for me in the straight."
Central House had disappointed at Fairyhouse two weeks ago but Hughes is now focusing on the Queen Mother Champion Chase after this resounding return to form.
"We'll go straight to Cheltenham with him now. He can go two miles at a really good pace and keep it up," he said. "There was no doubting his performance today - he has beaten them fair and square. His effort petered out at Cheltenham last year but he is a much stronger horse this time round.
"He's holding on to his condition much better this season."