Barry Geraghty steers Carlingford Lough to glory
Red-letter day for trainer John Kiely as 12-1 shot lands unexpected Punchestown win
Jockey Barry Geraghty celebrates winning the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup on Carlingford Lough. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Barry Geraghty had to fight a controversial path to get to the Punchestown festival and the struggle paid off in style yesterday with Carlingford Lough’s dramatic Bibby Financial Services Gold Cup success.
Freed to ride at the meeting just last week after successfully appealing a 30-day ‘non-trier’ ban for his Limerick ride on Noble Emperor Ruled at the start of the month, Geraghty pulled an unlikely victory out of the fire on the 12-1 winner who looked to be struggling for much of the race.
However the JP McManus-owned star famously produced a much more unlikely win from an even less promising position in February’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown which encouraged JP McManus’s number one jockey to persevere.
As the odds-on Cue Card weakened from the third last, and Road To Riches took a crashing fall at the second last, Carlingford Lough hit top gear and overhauled the Willie Mullins trained pair, Djakadam and Don Poli. Road To Riches emerged unscathed from his exit.
“It’s the way he races and you always hope, try and save a bit, and time it for the line. But basically I was trying to hang in there. It was only from three out I thought we had a chance,” said Geraghty.
Carlingford Lough is still ridden out every day by his 78-year-old Co Waterford-based trainer John Kiely who fine-tuned the best horse he’s ever trained back to a peak after a fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
“He didn’t seem to handle the ups and downs at Cheltenham. I think he prefers a level track and he’s probably better in Ireland, ” said Kiely. “I’ve been coming to Punchestown since 1948 and this is a never-again experience in my life. Once is lovely!”
The Cue Card team put their star’s defeat down to “one race too many at the end of the season” and were adamant the 4-6 favourite will bounce back next season.
The challenge of trying to take in the three major spring festivals has been a recurring theme this week, in particular with Willie Mullins’ horses.
However the Closutton empire struck back on Day Two with a hat-trick, including a pair of Grade One victories, the first of which came from Bellshill who made light of having been beaten at both Cheltenham and Liverpool to land the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.
Later Katie Walsh landed the first Grade One of her career as the 14-1 outsider Blow By Blow held off the English-trained favourite Moon Racer in the Attheraces Champion Flat Race, in which Mullins also saddled the third, fourth and fifth.
The champion trainer had earlier ruled Annie Power out of tomorrow’s s Betdaq Champion Hurdle after taking into account the lacklustre performances of Vautour and Yorkhill, two other horses who’d run at Cheltenham and Aintree.
“We had a winner on Tuesday, and three Grade One seconds, but they were running a bit below par,” Mullins said after Bellshill’s win. “I’m much happier with how things have panned out today.”
The Day Two crowd of 18,181 was up 1,301 on the corresponding day last year.