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TAKE GOOD LOUGH AT BISHOPS.

Byline: PETER O'HEHIR

BISHOPSLOUGH should make a bold bid to defy top-weight in the www.gowranpark.ie Handicap Hurdle at the County Kilkenny venue today.

Barry Connell's six-year-old, representing the father and son combination of Tony and Danny Mullins, has a won a point-to-point and a Thurles maiden hurdle.

And, runner-up in two of his three starts in handicap hurdles, should prove a tough nut to crack if, as expected, the step-up to two and a half miles brings about further improvement.

Built to be a chaser, Bishopslough finished runner-up to City Slicker on his handicap debut at Punchestown in November and after a disappointing effort at Leopardstown over Christmas he ran a cracker on the same track last time, when staying well to chase home Art Of Payroll.

Bishopslough was doing all his best work in the closing stages on that occasion. And today's longer trip should play to his strengths. Although conceding weight to such rivals as Oscars Business and Leavethelighton, I expect the Mullins runner to prove a tough nut to crack.

The short-priced banker, despite finishing second in each of his four starts over hurdles, is Aidan O'Brien-trained Shield in the Gowran Centenary Year Maiden Hurdle.

Winner of a Leopardstown bumper and a two-mile maiden on Dundalk's polytrack, Shield bumped into subsequent graded winner Sure Reef at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting and, since his Dundalk success, has chased home Katie T (franked form at Limerick last weekend) and Ttebbob at Naas.

Those efforts were over two and three miles respectively. And, dropping to an intermediate trip today and apparently facing very modest opposition, Shield should triumph for Robbie Power.

FIXTURES

TODAY: Gowran Park

TOMORROW: Curragh* and Downpatrick

THURSDAY: Cork

FRIDAY: Dundalk*

SATURDAY: Navan

SUNDAY: Limerick and Leopardstown* *denotes flat meeting

CAPTION(S):

HARD TO OPPOSE Trainer Aidan O'Brien
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 22, 2014
Words:301
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