Assembly halted by hardy Lough

Tony McCoy after winning the Topaz Novice Steeplechase on board Carlingford Lough. Picture: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Trainer John Kiely is considering the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for Carlingford Lough following his last-gasp defeat of Morning Assembly in the Topaz Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

The talented 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.

“He’s a horse that seems to keep improving all the time. His owner (JP McManus) has great patience, which is a big help.”

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.

Doyle said: “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.

Byrnes said of the 4-5 favourite: “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, while Wrong Turn survived a lengthy stewards’ inquiry to win the opening Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase.

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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