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Spillane’s Tower digs deep to complete Grade One double

Spillane’s Tower digs deep to complete Grade One double
Spillane’s Tower digs deep to complete Grade One double

Spillane’s Tower made it back-to-back Grade One victories for trainer Jimmy Mangan with a determined display in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Best known as the trainer of 2003 Grand National hero Monty’s Pass, Mangan was claiming his first top-level success in 16 years when this JP McManus-owned gelding landed the WillowWarm Gold Cup at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday, with Conna Castle his only previous Grade One winner in the same race in 2008.

Stepping up to three miles for the first time, Spillane’s Tower was a 5-2 joint-favourite for his latest big-race assignment and came out on top after a titanic tussle with market rival Monty’s Star.

Three Card Brag took the field along for much of the way before the big two settled down to fight it out in the straight.

While Spillane’s Tower travelled the better of the pair, Monty’s Star, who found only the much-heralded Fact To File too strong in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, dug deep to stay in the fight, but Mangan’s charge proved three-quarters of a length too strong.

Paddy Power reacted by cutting Spillane’s Tower’s odds for next year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup to 16-1 from 33-1. McManus has several contenders for the blue riband, with 4-1 shot Fact To File, 10-1 chance Inothewayurthinkin and 20-1 hope Corbetts Cross also in the mix at this early stage.

Mangan paid tribute to the successful owner, stating: “JP, what a man for racing. Without the ammunition, you can’t fire the gun.

“There’s nothing like this, it’s a wonderful game. For the McManus’ to breed the horse and everything is the icing on the cake. I’m delighted to be delivering the goods for them.

“He looked the real deal (when I got him) and I said ‘if there’s an engine inside that body, we’re away’. Thankfully, there is. What an engine he’s got, he’s got class to burn.

Spillane's Tower
Spillane’s Tower and the winning connections (Gary Carson/PA)

“I was confident, we’ve never lost confidence in this horse. He’s only six and hopefully his future is well ahead of him.

“He dealt with that (ground) fine but I wouldn’t like to run him on tight ground, as he’s a big horse. It was my worry all week and I was delighted to see it rain.

“He had won here during the winter on heavy ground and I wouldn’t like to chance him on firm ground. When the rain came, I had no excuses.

“We had tried him at two miles but he was telling us all the time that he wanted further. He won at two-and-a-half and he was always going away at the finish.

“We can dream during the summer now, hopefully all goes well and we’ll be looking forward to the autumn.

“I was coming near to the end of the road but this really puts me back on the motorway again! All the big days are special, but Punchestown is special.”

McManus added: “Jimmy and his team have done a great job with him. It’s wonderful to be here today and sharing it with them and their family.

“They are great for racing and you can see when they win a race how enthusiastic the crowd are.”

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