For the third time in four years, Gordon Elliott saddled the winner of the thetote.com Galway Plate. After Donagh Meyler and Lord Scoundrel in 2016 and Mark Enright and Clarcam 12 months ago, this time it was Luke Dempsey in the saddle, winning aboard Borice.
Carrying the famous two-tone green colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, the son of Network was towards the head of the market for some time but with drying ground not ideal for the eight-year-old, he took a late drift out to 9-1.
The race itself panned out quite well for him. Azzuri ensured a decent pace, and the eight-year-old, who came here on the back of two bloodless victories in novice hurdles in Britain, was primed for his return to the larger obstacles.
Top-weight Black Corton, trained by Paul Nicholls, looked as though he might give the popular jockey Bryony Frost a dream success but was slightly inconvenienced by a loose horse as he led into the straight. It didn’t have a major bearing on the result as Dempsey brought Borice with a powerful run down the stands’ side of the track and he raced on to win by a shade more than three lengths.
Snugsborough Benny was given a beautiful ride by Denis O’Regan to finish third. He was brought with every chance but just came up short on the day. Fourth-placed Peregrine Run may not have continued his summer winning sequence, but he did Peter Fahey and connection proud with a gallant effort under 11-9.
A delighted Gordon Elliott said: “It’s been a lucky race for us, and it’s nice to win another Galway Plate. I was worried about the ground with this lad, I thought it was too dry for him and I was humming and hawing about whether to run him, but Simon flew over from Nice this morning and Anthony Bromley came over, and it was brilliant, unbelievable.
“He was sent over to us by Simon and Isaac and the plan was to go for good, big staying chases.
“I fancied him in the Paddy Power last year, but I’d say he hadn’t filled into himself after coming from France and maybe ran him a bit soon. But that was great he won today, and he’ll be a nice horse for all them staying chases.
“We thought he was (our leading contender) all along – he was paper favourite this morning but obviously drifted a bit with the ground.
“We said if we were going to run him, we’d run him in a good staying chase. I wasn’t going to run him in a 20-grand race, it would have to be a 100-grand race plus, and thankfully it worked out.
“We’ll enjoy today and dream about it but that was what he was sent to me for: to be an English National horse.
“Simon and Isaac are unbelievable. They have an awful lot of horses in France and England, and they’ve a good few horses with me and Willie, so it’s great.”
For winning rider Dempsey, son of racehorse trainer Philip, this is the biggest win of his career. He counts one Cheltenham Festival victory, in the 2015 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle, amongst his previous successes, and Elliott was impressed with the ride he gave Borice.
“Luke gave him a super ride,” said Elliott. “There’s no stronger jockey at that weight – or any weight, probably. He’s been around the yard a long time, and I’m good friends with his father, Philip, and his mother, Gini, and it was nice for them that he won it.”
* The attendance was 16,634, down almost 300 on the same day last year, when 16,925 were present to watch Clarcam win the Plate. Tote turnover was also a little down on last year, with activity of €687,536 down from €776,109 in 2018, but bookmakers were slightly up, with €1,021,969 turned over compared with €881,296 12 months ago.
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