TRAINER Eoin Griffin and jockey Michael Fogarty enjoyed their first ever success in the carlton.ie/galwaycity Handicap, formerly the GPT, when Admiral Barry beat Mount Helicon at Ballybrit last night.
Fogarty, who has greatly impressed over a number of months, got a real tune from the five-year-old to wear down Mount Helicon, who ran a cracker off top weight.
Mount Helicon took over from trail-blazing stable companion Spinning Wings coming down the hill, but the winner gradually edged closer and was always getting the best of the battle through the final furlong.
“I’m delighted, he was unlucky at the Curragh the last day, but this has made up for it,” said Griffin.
“I am delighted for John Brennan (owner) and his wife, Mary. You would have to say this horse has been disappointing since his two-year-old days.
“The way I train him now is I do everything the opposite to the way I used to do it before and it seems to be working.
“Love is a great thing and he is trained out in a field with a mare and seems to be a new horse.
“He hated hurdles, but when the handicapper has got him we may give him another go at them.
“I might bring him back here on Friday night for the mile and a half premier handicap.”
There was a sting in the tail for Fogarty, however, and he was given two days’ suspension for using his whip with excessive frequency.
Dermot Weld made his intentions for the week clear from the start when Force Of Habit dug deep to take first on the card, the novice hurdle.
Hail Caesar looked a sure-fire winner when cantering all over his rivals off the home turn and was in front at the last.
The winner had a couple of lengths to make up, but showed much the greater resolution and was nicely in charge near the line.
Said Weld: “That was a very good ride by Paul (Townend), most of the credit has to go to him.
“The plan is for the horse to come back here later in the week, either for a mile and a half race on Thursday or a two-miler on Saturday.”
Andrew Leigh, who rode fourth placed Paintmaker, was suspended for one day for using his whip with excessive frequency.
Weld completed a double when Fort Defiance was the recipient of a vintage drive by Robbie McNamara to win the Bumper.
The grey was always near the front and McNamara kicked hard heading into the dip. Apt Manor soon gave chase and appeared to be travelling much better than her rival.
But when it came to the crunch it was Fort Defiance who had the answers and Apt Manor could not get past.
Said Weld: “That was a beautiful ride by Robbie. The plan was to be positive and he totally controlled the race from the box position.”
Charles Byrnes’ Kalellshan made every yard of the running to take the jurysinn.com Handicap Hurdle.
Partnered by Davy Russell, on only his second ride back, following a broken ankle, Kalellshan found plenty for pressure to easily resist the flattering Total Excitement.
Commented Byrnes: “He was probably well handicapped, he’s 130 plus over fences. You have to let him go off in front, because he wouldn’t settle.”
Joseph O’Brien, on his first ride at the Festival, was seen to advantage when driving heavily-backed Robin Hood to victory in the claregalwayhotel.ie EBF Maiden.
The Galileo colt was paying a big compliment to Jessica Harrington’s Pathfork, who slammed him by four lengths at the Curragh.
Robin Hood made all of the running, staying on strongly through the last furlong to beat Tashqeel by three parts of a length.
Disappointment of the contest was Weld’s A Word Apart. He wasn’t too quick to leave the gate, but it would be churlish to use that as an excuse and the son of Desert Style wasn’t good enough to get in a blow.
The Paul Deegan yard landed a tasty touch with Enjoy Your Life in the galwaybayhotel.com and radissonhotelgalway.com Handicap.
He came in for some inspired support in the ring, 14-1 down to 7’s, and got there after a tough struggle.
Footprint tried hard to close down the winner in the closing stages, but Willie Supple was seen at his best to get Enjoy Your Life home half a length to the good.
Notalossonya, who got off the mark at Leopardstown previously, followed up with a gusty display in the ghotel.ie Handicap.
Given a terrific ride by Wayne Lordan, the filly hit the front off the home turn and never flinched the issue in the straight to beat Sailors Warn and favourite, Rainforest Magic.
* Last night’s attendance was 17,961, marginally up from 17,342 last year.
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