Past Winners » Carlingford Lough


Carlingford Lough is only a 7/1 shot for Wednesday’s Galway Plate, but he is a fair bit over-priced at that in my book. It is easy to see him go off a lot shorter than that on the day, and it makes sense to back him now ante post.

The case for him is strong. Firstly, he looks like a really well-handicapped horse now over fences. He is rated 133, 11lb lower than his rating over hurdles, and that is significant. He jumps fences well, so there is no reason to believe that he will not be at least as good a chaser as he is or was a hurdler, so he has huge scope in his current rating.

A talented hurdler, he is shaping up to be at least as good over fences. He ran a cracker to finish a close-up fourth in the Leopardstown Chase in January, and he was sent off as favourite for the Irish National on the back of that run. The extreme trip probably did it for him in the National, and the ground was just too soft for him at Punchestown in April, but he bounced back from that to run a cracker in chasing home Miss Pepperpot at Killarney in May.

In one sense, it was a little disappointing that he didn’t win that day but, ridden well out the back, he had done a lot of running to get into a position from which he could challenge at the final fence, and the winner is a game and gutsty mare who just battled on really well on the run-in.

John Kiely has given Carlingford Lough a nice break since then, no doubt with the intention of bringing him back fresh and well for the Galway Plate. Indeed, it is probable that he and owner JP McManus have had the Plate in mind since well before Killarney. JP McManus has owned two of the last three, and three of the last seven, winners of the Plate, while Kiely sent out Wise Old Owl (who also raced in green and gold) to finish a close-up second in the race in 2011. The pair of them know what is required to win the race, and it is obviously a race that they like to target.

Carlingford Lough is only seven, he has raced just eight times over fences in his life, so he still has lots of scope for progression over the larger obstacles. Also, he has won twice over hurdles at Galway, and finished third there twice over fences, so we know that he handles the track well. Actually, he missed the cut by just one for last year’s Galway Hurdle, before he went and easily landed a handicap hurdle at the track two days later, so we know that Kiely had him well primed for Galway last year. That is likely to be the case again this year. Goodish ground, or ground just on the easy side of good, would be perfect.

He does need five horses above him in the handicap to come out of the race if he is to get to run in it, but that is likely to happen. Also, Mouse Morris says that top weight Rathlin is going to run on Tuesday instead of in the Plate, while second top weight Mossey Joe is still the subject of an ownership dispute, so there is every chance that he will not run either. That would leave Bob Lingo on joint-top weight. As it happens, Bob Lingo, last year’s Plate hero, is also owned by JP McManus, and that would leave Carlingford Lough on a lovely racing weight of 10st 7lb, which AP McCoy could do comfortably if he does come over for the ride, which is surely more than likely.

If all of those things transpire, you could see Carlingford Lough being sent off the 7/2 or 4/1 favourite. Therefore, the 7/1 is well worth taking now.

Day-of-race update:

There is not a lot to add to the case for Carlingford Lough. He is first reserve, we do need at least one horse above him in the handicap to come out in order for him to get into the race, but there is still a good chance that that will happen. If he doesn’t get in, we get our ante post stake back, so it’s not a disaster.

The ground should be perfect, as long as they don’t have a deluge between now and 5.30, and AP McCoy has been confirmed for the ride, as suspected. There is a groundswell of support gathering behind him now and, if he does get into the race, it is easy to see him going off a relatively short-priced favourite. With Paddy Power and Bet365 betting ¼ the odds a place the first five, it is worth pressing up this morning at 13/2. With normal luck in-running, he really should go close.