Racing: Nickname shines through the fog to show Festival class

For Aintree 1947, read Punchestown 2007. Sixty years ago Caughoo emerged from a thick fog to win a Grand National of which only the last couple of fences were visible to those in the stands. Yesterday it was Nickname who loomed best from a mist that descended on the Co Kildare track for part of the afternoon. But at least it was certain that he and Ruby Walsh completed all of the race. Poor Caughoo and his rider, Eddie Dempsey, later faced unfounded accusations that they had pulled up in the country, lurked unseen, and joined in again second time round.

As the field of eight for the two-mile Tied Cottage Chase disappeared into the gloom, Central House led Tumbling Dice with the two-mile champion, Newmill, running over fences for the first time this term, in third and Nickname near the back. Then, for nearly three minutes, there was silence and wonderment.

The first audible news for racegoers was bad; those watching live could not see it, but commentator Des Scahill was able to pick it up on his monitor, courtesy of a remote camera. Newmill, still third, had taken a crashing fall four fences out.

The first sighting for punters was better; two fences out Walsh kicked Nickname, the 9-10 favourite, past Central House and into a growing lead. After the last the big brown French-bred quickened away for a seven-length success. Central House, seeing Nickname's powerful quarters for the fourth time this season, held off Steel Band for second.

What is clear is that Nickname is the best two-miler in Ireland by some way; Andrew McNamara, Newmill's rider, conceded that the best he would have been was second. But there is nothing opaque about the caveat that accompanies Martin Brassil's charge on his journey to the Queen Mother Champion Chase: his road must be a soft one.

Though yesterday's terrain was slightly quicker than he had trodden on his previous three victories this season, it was still easy on the hoof. And Brassil will continue to make hay with the eight-year-old while the sun does not shine, with an outing at Naas three weeks hence. "Ruby said they went a good gallop and he settled lovely," said the trainer. "He is having it so easy that the races are not taking that much out of him, and that's why he's able to run so often."

Walsh reported that Nickname overcame interference going to the final turn. "The two in front got a bit tight in front of me," he said, "but I had a lovely run in the straight and he quickened so well. If he does run at Cheltenham, he's got to be a huge player."

He was cut again for the two-mile crown after yesterday's effort, and is now vying for third favouritism at 6-1, behind Voy Por Ustedes and Newmill, who was reported relatively unscathed after his tumble. "He has a cut over one eye that will need a few stitches," his trainer, John Murphy, said, "but other than that he's fine."

De Valira, hitherto favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, was trounced by 50-1 shot Orbit O'Gold, given an enterprising ride from the front by Slippers Madden. The winner, another promising youngster from the Noel Meade academy, is bound for the Festival opener, for which De Valira, who was conceding 6lb yesterday, is out to 10-1.

The fog lifted for the cross-country chase involving the track's trademark banks. And it looks like Enda Bolger has found a natural successor to Spot Thedifference in the enthusiastic winner Heads Onthe Ground.

Detroit City, who kept his position as Champion Hurdle favourite with a gritty defeat of Straw Bear in Saturday's Agfa Hurdle, emerged from his box with a spring in his step yesterday. The giant grey hit the top of the last hurdle with his knees, but took the bump in his stride. "There are no ill-effects," said his trainer, Philip Hobbs, "He's A1, and won't run again before Cheltenham."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk
Nepal earthquake: One man's desperate escape from Everest base camp after the disaster

Escape from Everest base camp

Nick Talbot was sitting in his tent when the tsunami of snow and rock hit. He was lucky to live, unlike his climbing partner just feet away...
Adopting high fibre diet could dramatically cut risk of bowel cancer, says study

What happened when 20 Americans swapped diets with 20 Africans?

Innovative study in the US produces remarkable results
Blake Lively and 'The Age of Adaline': Gossip Girl comes
of age

Gossip girl comes of age

Blake Lively is best known for playing an affluent teenager. Her role as a woman who is trapped forever at 29 is a greater challenge
Goat cuisine: Kid meat is coming to Ocado

Goat cuisine

It's loved by chefs, ethical, low in fat and delicious. So, will kid meat give lamb a run for its money?
14 best coat hooks

Hang on: 14 best coat hooks

Set the tone for the rest of your house with a stylish and functional coat rack in the hallway
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?