Ground key to Devotion’s 25/1 shock win

ROYAL DEVOTION, trained by Michael Halford for Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, sprang the biggest shock on a day of surprises at Galway yesterday when landing the listed Ardilaun House Hotel Oyster Stakes.

The 25/1 shot, ridden by Halford’s stable jockey, Tadgh O’Shea, tracked the leaders and edged ahead briefly in the dip before having to be roused by O’Shea to get the better of Arch Rebel well inside the final furlong. Then, the daughter of Saddler’s Wells had to hold the late surge of Orpington by half a length.

Trainer Halford said: “She was a big weak filly last year but we decided to keep her in training. She ran well at Limerick but fast ground hasn’t helped her and she missed the break and ran no race at Fairyhouse the last day.”

“The ease in the ground helped today and Tadgh said that she battled well when she had to. This has justified the decision to keep her in training and I suppose the cheek-pieces helped her too. We’ll keep her going until the end of the season but I’m not sure where she’ll run next.”

Excalibur, unbeaten in his two previous starts, was sent off a red hot 4/9 favourite but the Ballydoyle colt, having made most of the running, had little to offer when headed in the dip and could only plug on one paced to fill sixth place.

Riding honours on day two of this September meeting went to Niall McCullagh who completed a double on Gemini Diamond and Jazz Princess. McCullagh adopted front running tactics on Gemini Diamond a 10/1 shot trained by Michael Grassick and, having looked in trouble turning for home, the daughter of Desert King stretched clear for an emphatic five lengths win in the Tom Hogan Motors handicap.

Later, McCullagh seized the initiative turning for home on Jazz Princess in the two year old auction race, driving the filly clear before holding the challenge of favourite Zelkova by a length and a half.

Jazz Princess, successful on her debut at Sligo, is owned in partnership by Galway man Tom Curran and Martin Cullinane, who bought her for just 9,200. She is trained by Jessica Harrington who was not present to witness the victory but her husband Johnny explained, “she’s a lovely filly with a wonderful temperament. There’s more improvement in her and she’ll probably go for one of the good nurseries now.”

The tide turned for favourite backers in the Electronic Retail Security Handicap when the Joanna Morgan trained Dbest justified his position as 5/2 market-leader, making most of the running and pulling enough out under strong driving by Patsy Cosgrave to score by half a length. A steward’s enquiry followed. The result was allowed stand, but Cosgrave picked up a two-day ban for careless riding.

Curragh trainer Kevin Prendergast saddled Gilda Lilly to win the opening Fillies Maiden under stable jockey Declan McDonogh. This filly took command turning into the straight but had only a neck to spare at the line as Zarandja overcame a bad draw and produced a flying finish. But the post came in time for Prendergast’s charge.

Fit The Cove, trained by Harry Rogers, followed up a course and distance win at the Festival when justifying favouritism under Michael Kinane in the Trappers Inn Handicap.

The Galway City Vintners Novice Chase produced the best finish of the day as 9/4 favourite Windsor Boy, under the power packed ride by Barry Geraghty, emerged victorious in a three-way photo finish, holding off Il En Reve by a short head with long time leader Gold Spear, (which had jumped left throughout) just a head away. Windsor Boy will now be aimed at a conditions event at the Listowel Festival.

Arachine (1/3 to 2/9) landed an emphatic win under Ruby Walsh in the concluding maiden hurdle. Walsh guided the Pat Hughes’ trained five-year-old to a very comfortable success over Western Flyer for owner Tom Quinn from nearby Kilcolgan.

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