On the first day of Galway the crowd, slightly up on last year, saw Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell start the week with a winner as Lethal Steps battled up the hill to hold the JP McManus pair of Morosini and Winner Takes Itall.
The Easyfix Handicap Hurdle went to the favourite, Linger, trained by Joseph O’Brien who beat Roachdale House and Volatile Lady held on by 6l and ½l.
Punters were again correct in the first flat race of the meeting as Inishfree, who was headed in the final furlong by Shekhem, fought back under Donnacha O’Brien to win by a neck. The winner is trained by Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld trained the runner up. Cap D’antibes finished 3rd for JJ Walsh 6 ½ l further back.
The Claytonhotelgalway.com Handicap was won by the outsider Galtee Mist at 20/1 by a head from Syrena with Cruella Dovil 1½l back in 3rd. The winner had finished 6th in Roscommon in July beaten about 6½l by Calling Time.
Jodi Townend won the 2017 Connaught Hotel Qualified Riders Handicap on Great White Shark trained by Willie Mullins from Dermot Weld’s Dalton Highway and the English raider Litterale ridden by Aine O’Connor for Harry Fry by 1¾l and ¾l. The Mullins trained favourite, Mr Adjudicator finished 4th, and the trainer was completing a hattrick of wins in the race.
The penultimate Eventus Handicap was won by the Jim Bolger trained Halami who battled well for Kevin Manning to hold Millswyn and Donnacha O’Brien by ½ l with Red Gerry third. The bumper provided local Galway jockey Derek O’Connor with victory on the Emmet Mullins trained Russian Diamond from the favourite Risk Factor and Soldiers Hill.
On Tuesday the crowd was slightly down on last year but things got off to a great start for punters as Fast Buck, trained by WP Mullins, won the novice hurdle by 1¼l and 3¼l from Turnpike Trip and Road To Dubai under Paul Townend, following his sister into the winner’s enclosure.
The favourite in the Latin Quarter Beginners Chase, the second race, Zero Ten at odds on at 1/2, made it two winning favourites in a row coming home by 3l and 3¾l from outsiders Stormey, trained locally by Steve Mahon, and Charlie Stout. The winner was repeating Emmet Mullins and his cousin David’s victory of 12 months ago and doubling up on Emmet’s score this year.
Flat racing opened with a win for the favourite Petite Mustique ridden by Donnacha O’Brien for his father Aidan. The favourite beat Chasing The Dawn and Mythic by 2¾l and ½l. In the Caulfield Industrial EBF Maiden the Ger Lyons trained Rita Levi won by a neck and 5l from Mudlahhim and Dedillon to give some relief to the layers.
The feature race of the day the Colm Quinn BMW Mile was won by Saltonstall who finished ½l and a head in front of Innamorare and Quizical in the hands of champion jockey Colin Keane
In the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap was won by One Cool Poet trained by Matthew Smith and ridden by Billy Lee who beat Emphatic and Sharp Focus by a neck and 1½l.
More misery for the punters in the final race as 10/1 Make A Challenge held off the challenge of the well backed favourite Beckwith Place, 6’s to 2’s, by a nose. Moxy Mares was another 1¼l back in 3rd.
On Wednesday, racing opened with The Tote Supporting Irish Racing Maiden Hurdle and another winner for Mullins and Townend as Diamond Hill beat Days Without End and Sky Marshall 1¼l and ½l.
The second was won by Gavin Cromwell’s well backed favourite, Ilikedwayurthinkin at 2/1 from outsider Sweet Home Chicago and Whatsyourstatus. Three more of the Mullins family were in the winners enclosure after the Mares Handicap Hurdle as Bercassa, owned by Helen, trained by Tom and ridden by there son David beat Imastartoo and Like An Open Book by 3½l and 1¼l
Relief for punters in the amateur flat handicap as father and son, Willie and Patrick Mullins, produced Diamond Hill to beat National Wealth by a head with Rising 9l back in 3rd.
The big one the Galway Plate went to Gordon Elliott for the third year running as Borice and Luke Dempsey came with a run on the outer rail to catch Byrony Frost on the English raider, Black Corton, with Snugsborough Benny 3rd and Peregrine Run 4th. The winning distances were 3¼l, a neck and ½l.
Day 4 of the festival, the card sponsored by Guinness, opens with a beginners chase which looks an open 8-runner race with Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors fancied. A flat bred he may not take to fences and the experienced Rathnure Rebel is preferred.
Again, only eight go to post in the novice chase with Zero Ten looking for a second win this week but Wicklow Brave and Moon Over Germany have solid claims. Philip Reynolds likes to win in the west and Moon Over Germany, making the long journey from Waterford is selected.
There are two flat handicap races, an 18-runner and 13-runner, on the card both of which are wide open and are best watched. Only six go to post in the novice hurdle before the big one with Charles Byrnes’ Doctor Duffy the one to beat on his form 2nd to Peregrine Run.
JP McManus supplies three of the 22 runners in the Guinness Galway Hurdle including Band Of Outlaws trained by Joseph O’Brien. Willie Mullins has Riven Light and Shanning among his four runners but the one that catches my eye is Sole Pretender trained outside Gort by Norman Lee seeking four in a row. Norman’s father, Christy, was associated with the 1973 winner Lesabelle. Head says Band Of Outlaws, heart says Sole Pretender and I think I’ll let my heart win.
In the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap, Gavin Cromwell’s Green Panda has been running well and could win at a nice price and is an e/w bet. The closing bumper, which is timed for 5.59 pm (1759 the year Guinness started in St James’s Gate), sees ten horses go to post. The booking of Jamie Codd for Ballylig by John McConnell and the fact that he has had a run will do me but he will get it all to do from Derek O’Connor on All Those Years and Tom Hamilton on Tudors Glory.
Today is Ladies Day and the prize an €10,000 for the winner of the g Hotel & Spa Best Dressed Lady competition and €2,000 prize for the Best Hat competition. The competition will be judged by Sile Seogie, Rosanna Davidson and Gillian Fitzpatrick of the sponsors HER throughout the day, there will be live music on-course.
If you do not collect today’s Best Dressed Lady competition fear not as Athlone Town Centre sponsor The Fair Lady at Galway Races with €1,500 shopping voucher and a lot of other prizes tomorrow. Judging will be television presenter James Patrice, Marietta Doran and Manager of Athlone Towncentre Shirley Delahunt. This year sees the biggest Prize Fund on offer for the competition yet, in excess of €3000. The lucky winner will leave Galway Racecourse with a €1500 Athlone Towncentre shopping spree, a two-night luxury hotel & spa break at Sheraton Athlone Hotel, an Emporio Armani Watch courtesy of Fields The Jeweller and bespoke head piece created by Milliner Suzie Mahony plus racing hat hire for the year.
Sunday is Family Day and children are free in. There is also the Mad Hatters Competition very popular among younger, and some older, punters with loads holiday vouchers including flights on offer to the winners.
On the racing scene Saturday features the Grade B Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle and Sunday the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap over 7f.