THE CORAL CUP (HANDICAP HURDLE)
1st (2) Sky's The Limit 11-1
SKY IS LIMIT FOR O’GRADY STAR
Some long-term planning from trainer Edward O’Grady paid dividends when Sky’s The Limit defied top weight of 11st 12lb in some style to land the Coral Cup by an effortless four lengths.
The five-year-old has not run since winning a conditions hurdle at Fairyhouse on December 3 and O’Grady said: “We wanted to preserve his handicap mark so he has not run since December, we hoped he’d improve from four to five and perhaps he has! He may just be on the upgrade - he’s only five and is obviously improving.
“Nobody expects a horse to win that easily, I’d like the handicapper to not put him up too much but I suspect we might have to go for conditions hurdles now. Aintree would be a possibility.”
Jockey Barry Geraghty added: “He’s still only five and you could go wherever you want with him after that. We were concerned when the weights went up at the overnight declaration stage but it also meant the bottom weights had to carry more so I suppose that helped.”
It was owner Ray Rooney’s first Festival runner since Golden Cygnet
was trained by O’Grady to win the 1978 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Strangely Brown does McNamara proud
Eric McNamara, who trains at Rathkeel in County Limerick, ran two horses in the Coral Cup, runner-up Strangely Brown and faller Good Thyne Jack.
McNamara, from Rathkeel in County Limerick, said of Strangely Brown, who lost a hind shoe: “He ran a blinder, jumped superb, but was beaten by a better horse on the day. I had him entered in the [Ladbrokes] World Hurdle, but just felt two miles five furlongs was the right trip. He’s only a five-year-old and the longer race and better horses would have been too much for him.
“Brian Byrnes, who rode the horse, works in my yard and is a good lad. He claims 5lb and as Strangely Brown is not a big horse it made sense to take the weight off his back. We’ll consider Aintree or Punchestown for him.
“I’ve not spoken to Paul Carberry, who rode Good Thyne Jack, but the horse ran no sort of race. I’ve been told he made a mistake at the first, but I’ve not checked that out.”
Nick Williams, whose Dom D’Orgeval finished third under joint top-weight, said: “We’re disappointed because we came to win, but I’m always happy when they run well and finish in the frame. You’ve got to fancy a horse that’s on a roll like that.
“If he comes out of the race okay he could run in a hurdle race at Auteuil in April. He handled this quicker ground, but he’s better on soft ground and we should get that in France. He’s big enough to jump fences but we’re not in a rush. He’s so quick over a hurdle that we’ll stick to this.”
CORAL CUP - SKY’S THE LIMIT
BARRY GERAGHTY (JOCKEY)
EDWARD O’GRADY (TRAINER HAVING HIS 18th FESTIVAL WIN)
RAYMOND ROONEY (OWNER)
“Edward is a wonder trainer - he’s minded this horse at home for the last three or four months. That was a tremendous performance from a five-year-old carrying 11st 12lb - I don’t think it’s ever been done before here. He’s a serious horse.”
ROYAL & SUNALLIANCE CHASE - FROM THE STEWARDS
The stewards considered the running of Commercial Flyer, ridden by Timmy Murphy and trained by Martin Pipe, who started favourite and pulled up. The jockey reported that he pulled the gelding up after making two mistakes. The veterinary officer reported that during routine testing after the race he found that Commercial Flyer had lost a front shoe.
CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE
1 SKY'S THE LIMIT (FR) (Raymond Rooney) Edward O'Grady IRE 5-11-12 Barry
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