Dermot Weld landed the trainers’ title for the 29th time last week despite training fewer winners than either Willie Mullins or Tony Martin.
Few among the throngs of racegoers that made the pilgrimage to the hallowed circuit were aware that the championship is awarded on a points system where second and third places are counted.
So dominant has Weld been over the years that he had the title in the bag by the time the halfway point had been reached. In terms of winners Mullins topped the table with eight while Martin recorded six victories one ahead of Weld and in spite of one or two slipping the net Martin landed some serious gambles.
Took The Honours
We had a sign of things to come in the very first race of the meeting on Monday evening when Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh took the honours with Bachasson from the Weld runner Zafayan.
Although a little free early on the four-year-old was simply running away going into the dip and after he winged the second last he drew right away to win by 16 lengths from Zafayan.
Mullins seemed surprised by the ease of the victory and revealed that Listowel will be the next port of call. One for the notebook, even at this early stage of the season it’s safe to say it’ll take something special to lower his colours in the months ahead.
Jessica Harrington and her daughter Kate took the first big prize of the meeting and made history by becoming the first mother-daughter pairing to land the two mile amateur handicap with Modem.
Well fancied by connections, Modem responded to a vigorous ride to hit the front coming up the final hill and ran on strongly to beat Awesome Star by a neck with the Tony Martin trained favourite Ted Veale half a length back in third place.
There was, however, a sting in the tail for the winning rider - stewards deemed that she had used her whip without giving her mount a chance to respond and suspended her for ten days.
Willie Mullins went close to taking the Grade A Galway Plate with The Paparrazi Kid, but a bad mistake going down the back saw him come home five and a half adrift of Shanahan’s Turn where it mattered.
Given a fine ride by Johnny Burke, Shanahan’s Turn was always prominent before taking over five out and going on to record a comfortable five and a half success. His task was made much easier as the Mouse Morris runner Rule The World, ridden by Davy Russell, clipped the heels of the winner at the second last and came to grief.
At that point it looked a wide open race as Rule the World was going equally as Shanahan’s Turn who seemed to jump to is left at the second last causing Rule The World to come very close to him, which may have resulted in Russell’s mount clipping heels.
Richest Race in Ireland
Although it took Tony Marin a couple of days to make his presence felt he did it in style, saddling Quick Jack to land the Galway Hurdle - the richest race on the Irish racing calender with in excess of €180,000 going to the winner.
Winner of the opening race at last year’s festival Quick Jack had run only three times in the mean-time.
Martin showed what a master he is for producing one for the big day. The money was certainly down and investors were counting their winnings a long way from home.
Rider Denis O’Regan was coolness personified as he chose an inside path and got the splits just when he needed them to lead at the second last and keep on well to beat the Mullins representative Max Dynamite by two and a quarter lengths with another Martin runner Ted Veale filling third position two and a half lengths further in arrears.
Undoubtedly the unlucky horse in the race was the Barry Geraghty-ridden Thomas Edison who was upsides Quick Jack and travelling when he came to grief at the last flight.
Also representing the Martin yard, Thomas Edison races in the colours of J.P. McManus and had a following in the betting market. Speaking post-race Geraghty said that it was anybody’s race at that point and it all depended on which one came up the final punishing the better.