Public cannot get enough of Galway extravaganza

WE may be in the middle of the worst recession in the history of this state, but it really made little or no difference to Galway this week.

Of course the betting was down somewhat and attendances suffered a little, but this still has to be regarded as a phenomenal success story.

It is a seven-day extravaganza which has an enduring appeal and a savage tradition. It allows Galway to rise above all other considerations and the public simply cannot get enough of what's on offer.

There were many highlights, not least Willie Mullins and Paul Townend combining to win their first Plate with Blazing Tempo.

Mullins has long been a master of his profession, but this has to rank among his best achievements.

Blazing Tempo went to Galway with only five races over fences under her belt and absent since chasing home the particularly smart Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking at the Punchestown festival in early May.

He then set the mare aside for this massive prize and to have her primed to perfection for the day that mattered most speaks for itself.

She was a useful hurdler, but her current mark at that game is only 123. Blazing Tempo ran off 139 in the Plate, so already is a long way better as a chaser. She goes up by 12lbs in the future.

Townend was quite superb and if he felt any pressure going into the contest certainly didn't give any indication such was the case.

But this was a big ask for the young man, considering he only returned to race-riding two days earlier, having been off with a broken collarbone for some three months

There cannot be many sportsmen who could come back from a long-term injury and immediately be as good as ever.

You had to spare a thought for Ruby Walsh, who again missed out on a big day through yet another injury.

He was working for RTE during the Plate and, as exciting as television undoubtedly is, it had to represent cold beer compared to being in the thick of the action.

You just hope that, when fit and raring to go again, he will get a decent run and, perhaps, power through the entire winter uninterrupted.

Dermot Weld had an extraordinary week, even by his own seriously high standards. Just how good is his Riviera Poet, who won that two-year-old maiden on Monday night?

The amount of money that was floating around for Aidan O'Brien's Learn was extraordinary and the son of Galileo was backed as if defat was out of the question.

Riviera Poet was a good two lengths behind Learn off the home turn, but cut him down in a flash and was nicely on top close home.

It was a nice performance and you just want to see Learn in action again to gauge just how good it actually was.

There was a lot to like about the display of John Kiely's Carlingford Lough in a handicap hurdle.

He only won a moderate race off a modest mark of 109, but it was still a taking effort by an imposing gelding with just two previous outings under his belt.

A mild surprise was the decision of the stewards to inquire into the apparent improvement in form of Dermot Weld's Stunning View, after he had landed the big flat handicap on Tuesday night.

They obviously felt that his effort in the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot left a bit to be desired. I thought he ran a blinder.

Another mild surprise was the 15-2, 7-1 and 13-2 which was available about Aidan O'Brien's Soon, successful in a two-year-old maiden for fillies.

The word was that she was no great shakes, despite running with distinct promise first time up at the Curragh, and, with most singing off the one hymn sheet, those who kept the faith were generously rewarded.

Winning jockey saw the bigger picture

TED WALSH told this story at Galway. A top jockey got injured early one day and had to miss a later ride.

A certain trainer - he was a Cork man - was now without his regular jockey and had to get another - one who hadn't ridden for him before. Anyway the beastie in question wasn't off and he told his new pilot to just get a feel of the horse, not to win and think of the bigger picture.

Your man promised he would and then produced the horse with a powerful surge between the last two flights to win going away by six lengths.

"You didn't think of the bigger picture'', said the distraught trainer in the winner's enclosure.

The jockey, who knew he wouldn't be aboard next time, was miles ahead of the game. "I did, but I wasn't in it'', he responded.

Derby on Saturday well worth a try

YOU had to be impressed by the fixture list published by Horse Racing Ireland this week.

It was innovative and, together with the new winter schedule for Dundalk, offers plenty of hope for the future.

The decision to switch the Derby to a Saturday is interesting and well worth a try.

It has to raise the profile of the race and will ensure there will be no more major clashes with big GAA games.

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