Horses To Follow » The Bishop Looney

The Bishop Looney

The Bishop Looney put up a really good performance to win the Cork Grand National on Sunday over three and a half miles. This was just Tom Nagle’s gelding’s fifth chase, he hadn’t jumped a fence in public until March of this year, and he appeared to win this with plenty in hand, Tom Doyle wasn’t hard on him until after the second last fence, and he pricked his ears on the run to the last and after it, before pulling out enough to get back up to win a shade comfortably in the end after Another Palm had joined him halfway up the run-in.

Doyle had the horse right down on the inside and, while he isn’t the biggest and doesn’t tend to make ground over his fences, he is nimble, and that was probably a good route for him to take, saving ground. He had to be fleet-footed to avoid the stricken Tullintain when that one fell four from home when in the lead, and from there he moved up early in the straight to challenge the strong-travelling Another Palm, who was wearing first-time blinkers. It was a good battle all the way to the line, but ultimately The Bishop Looney appeared just to lose concentration, which allowed Paul Carberry and Another Palm to draw back alongside after the final fence, and Tom Doyle was able to get his horse to pull out more when pressed. He went on to prevail by three quarters of a length, the front pair having pulled a little way clear of the third horse, Indifference Curve, with an even bigger break back to the well-backed favourite Smoking Aces in fourth.

The Bishop Looney is only seven, he has now won his last two chases, and he should be even better with this experience as his jumping improves. He stayed the three-and-a-half-mile-trip well, but he had the pace to win over two miles at Galway the time before. The handicapper has raised him 9lb, which is probably fair, but he could still have another big handicap in him, possibly the Paddy Power at Leopardstown at Christmas. He has started off with a lowly handicap mark over fences compared to his hurdling mark, he is still only 5lb higher now over fences than over hurdles, and he looks set to improve now over fences having initially struggled over the larger obstacles.

6th November 2011