AFTER Tudor City took centre stage the previous Thursday, it was the turn of another modern day Galway great to bring down the curtain on this year’s meeting as Current Option raced into the history books by becoming the first horse to win three consecutive renewals of the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap.
A four-time premier handicap winner who also has Group 3 and listed triumphs amongst his seven victories, Current Option perhaps best typifies the better standard of horses which has moved trainer Adrian McGuinness on to a different level in recent seasons.
The trainer may have endured a rather frustrating Galway this year as he had to wait until this race to open his account for the week but he did so in style by sending out a one-three-four-five.
Current Option, who represents Dooley Thoroughbreds, Bart O’Sullivan and Shamrock Thoroughbreds, was some 8lb lower in the weights than when winning this last year.
A good fourth to Magic Chegaga in the Colm Quinn Mile earlier in the week struck an ominous chord with regard to his prospects in this race and he won with authority.
The rain softened ground held no fears for this Cian MacRedmond-ridden son of Camelot who tanked through this race.
He was nicely positioned tracking the leaders on the outside for much of the race and when he made his move inside the last quarter of a mile it was all looking good for the 11/2 chance.
He led a furlong out and kept on strongly to score by a length and a quarter from the equally remarkable On A Session who was reaching the frame in this race for the fourth year in a row.
“I might never get a horse like him again. He’s been fabulous to have and the lads are great supporters. He just loves this place and was unlucky in the Mile the other night,” said McGuinness.
“He had come back to a nice mark and we’ll probably try for the Sovereign Path at Leopardstown on Champions Weekend which he has won before.”
The day’s feature held up well despite the softening ground but a number of other races over the course of the day were hit by a spate of ground related withdrawals and some 13 horses came out of the opening Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle which was won by the Emmet Mullins-trained Teed Up.
The Annette Mee-owned runner ran a superb race to finish second to Sit Down Lucy here on Friday evening and took full advantage of a marked drop in grade to account for his seven rivals. The five-year-old was always going well for Conor Clarke and led well before the last en route to a comfortable seven lengths victory over Lariat. The 4/6 favourite gave his rider a second winner over jumps.
“It’s a great day for Conor who joined me earlier in the year. That’s the second winner he’s had for me and hopefully things will start getting into gear for him soon. A winner at the Galway Festival is great for any young jockey,” reported Mullins afterwards.
“This horse loves this track, he had two wins and a second here for Ken Condon on the flat and he loves that hill. We’ll probably mix it between the flat and hurdles with him.”
A memorable few days for Tony Martin yielded another winner as Nathaniel’s Dream, a 22-race maiden under all codes, landed the Kenny Galway Handicap Hurdle over three miles.
In the colours of the Elizabethcarsonracing Syndicate, the 12/1 chance was only ninth coming to two out but he soon scythed through the field for Sean O’Keeffe and came with a relentless charge to edge out the favourite Perceval Legallois by a head.
“We put him by for Galway and fortunately he just got in at the last minute,” stated Martin.
“It’s a great man that owns him, Eric Carson. He’s one of the nicest and most loyal men I’ve ever had anything to do with. I know him six or seven years and what a gentleman.
“He’s been very loyal and the horse took a long time to come. He’s a bit of a worrier and his jumping was very inconsistent. Luckily it all came right today.”
Politesse strikes again for Fowler
AFTER running a brave fifth in the Plate, Battleoverdoyen looked well placed to make it back-to-back wins in the Eileen Kelly Memorial Chase and the 11/10 favourite looked to be on top after the last. However, he began to tread water in the straight and in the closing stages he was picked off by the Conor Orr-ridden Politesse (11/4) who was adding to her victory in June’s Connacht National at Roscommon.
At the line, the eight-year-old, who carries the colours of Peter Davies, had a length and a quarter to spare. The winner jockey received a three-day whip ban.
“It’s taken so long to get her back after an injury in Cork and she loves good ground, she really bounces off it,” commented Lorna Fowler.
“I was so disappointed when the rain came but when I walked the track I was really happy with it. She was so tough, I’m really proud of her. Conor and her make a great partnership. We may give her a break and try get some blacktype early autumn. She’s not a winter girl.”
Gordon Elliott was out of luck with Battleoverdoyen but he did make it three winners for the meeting when Vado Forte struck at 16/1 in the Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase over two and a quarter miles.
Jack Kennedy’s mount improved to lead the field over the last two fences and after losing the lead to Benefit Run in the straight he rallied splendidly to get back on top in the closing stages for a half-length success over Benefit Run.
Jack Kennedy picked up a four-day whip ban on the Call It What You Like Syndicate-owned winner which represented the rider’s first victory of the meeting.
“It’s been a long, tough week but it’s nice to get that. I was hoping he’d run well but wasn’t expecting him to do that.
“The day in Limerick when he won we let him on early and he stayed galloping so we did something similar here and it worked.
“He really dug deep for me there,” stated Kennedy.
No Risks with Mullins winner
THE meeting concluded on a fitting note as Willie Mullins, who once again topped the trainer’s standings with eight victories, took the Fr Breen Memorial (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race with No Risk No Fun.
Patrick Mullins was on board the Walters Plant Hire Ltd-owned five-year-old who was an impressive winner of a Wexford bumper on his debut two months ago.
The market leader made all the running and readily saw off the effort of his well-supported stablemate Spread Boss Ted in the straight for a stylish two-and-three-quarter-lengths triumph.
“He could be a graded horse. He does it nicely on the racetrack. We’ll look at whether we go for a third bumper or give him a little break and then go hurdling,” remarked Mullins.
“It’s been a fantastic week. All my neighbours had plenty of winners as well as ourselves. Emmet and the Shark had a good week and there was a great spread of winners throughout the week.”
Noel Meade, who came so close to another Galway Hurdle win with Jesse Evans, did secure a deserved success with Joe Masseria (9/2) in the 50-80 rated Ireland West Airport Knock Handicap over an extended mile.
A good fourth to Herring Island at Roscommon a month previously indicated that the Alexandra Matthews-owned gelding was coming back to peak form and he duly did so under Colin Keane.
The son of Fast Company made a sweeping move on the outer to lead a quarter of a mile out and he had enough in reserve in the closing stages to withstand the strong finish of Mr Trinket by half a length. The winner was adding this to his maiden win on heavy ground at Naas last October.
Eddie and Patrick Harty struck with Evening’s Empire in the Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden over seven furlongs. This Marie Harty-owned daughter of Kessaar had shown definite promise on her first two runs and enjoyed the first try beyond sprint distances.
The 11/4 shot was well placed for Chris Hayes approaching the straight and she responded well to strong pressure to run down Roman Moon in the last furlong to prevail by a length.
“I’d forgive any horse a debut run in Bellewstown and then last time in Navan the ground was fast and she just caught the top of the ridges but flew home. Today she was professional enough.
“She was a bit free going a slower speed but she is a work in progress and mentally she will switch on,” declared Eddie Harty who indicated his charge could head down the nursery route.