Rock And Roll Kid puts Mullins back in big-time

TONY MULLINS, who has been finding winners hard to come by, got back to the big-time at Ballybrit last night when Rock And Roll Kid, partnered by his son, Danny, strode to victory in the featured Tote Galway Mile EBF Handicap.

The Danehill Dancer gelding had been finishing to effect in previous races, without getting his head in front, but a change of tactics worked the oracle here.

Young Mullins sent his charge to the front heading up hill to the home turn and Rock And Roll Kid did the rest.

He stormed into the straight and hard as Maundy Money and Bobs Pride tried, they could never get in any sort of blow.

Commented Mullins senior: “It’s a feeling I haven’t had for many, many years. Barry (Connell, owner) bred him and for my son to ride, this is the best moment of my life.

“We will try and prove now that the horse goes on good ground. I haven’t seen the race yet, I went down to the start for no reason. I don’t know where he will go next, but it will be somewhere bigger.”

Mullins’ previous major success at the Festival came as far back as 1988, when he won the Plate with Afford A King.

It was a case of business as usual for the opening Tote Placepot 1 to 6 Maiden Hurdle, with victory going to Dermot Weld’s Teach Nua.

He was easy to back, but fears the rain-softened ground had greatly diminished his prospects proved totally unfounded.

He cruised into the lead for Paul Townend coming away from two out to beat the running-on Boragh Princess an easy three lengths.

Commented Weld: “He’s a flat horse jumping hurdles and I thought Paul was the right man for him.”

The winner returned with a little cut, but Weld indicated that it was of no consequence and he would run again today in a flat handicap.

Weld struck again when Almolahek, 8-1 to 11-2, won the two mile Tote Jackpot Handicap, under Pat Smullen.

Ridden along down in the dip, the Red Ransom gelding got a smashing run up the inside and was well on top close home.

“Pat gave that a great ride, it just worked out”, said Weld. “He handled the ground well and stays. Ruby (Walsh) might ride him back here on Saturday in a maiden hurdle.”

Weld completed a three-timer, taking his total for the two days to five, when Qassaar, backed from some 4-5 to 8-15, scrambled home in the Tote EBF Maiden.

Given a superb drive by Smullen, he made all the running, holding on for dear life as Kevin Prendergast’s newcomer, My Blue Heaven, closed with every stride. Said Weld: “Pat gave him a good ride and we will now find a handicap.”

Weld’s Brushed Aside was a huge order for the EBF Fillies Maiden, finding evens from 7-4, confidently supported to reverse previous Curragh running with Aidan O’Brien’s Devoted To You.

It was no contest on the track, however, with Devoted To You scooting home a whopping nine lengths clear of her rival.

Colm O’Donoghue was in no hurry, but this was over once he asked the daughter of Danehill Dancer to lengthen away.

Reported O’Donoghue: “There was plenty of pace and it rode like a good race, hopefully she is smart.”

Speaking from home, O’Brien indicated that the Debutante Stakes (Curragh) was likely to be next.

Natal, having a first outing for Jimmy Lambe, having been bought out of the Paul Nicholls yard, immediately rewarded connections by taking the Cara Diamonds Chase.

“We thought he was the pick of the sales, so we went and got him”, said Lambe. “He doesn’t have a problem and is a very straightforward horse.”

Well-backed Tasman made a lot of the running and then regained the lead over the second last.

But the winner tracked him through the final furlong, before powering ahead in the closing stages for Denis O’Regan.

“He will definitely improve for this and the plan now is the James Nicholson (Down Royal)”, said Lambe.

Peter Maher, who trains at Mondello, Co Kildare, enjoyed his first success on the flat when Sassy Gal swept through late to beat If Per Chance in the Tote Telebet Handicap.

Returned at 20-1, Sassy Gal paid over 40-1 on the Tote.

The attendance was 15,741, down from 22,282 last year. The Tote was down from €1,145,035 to €812,140. The bookmakers held €1,660,610, as against €2,128,026.

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