Indoing so the ten-year-old gave owner, J P McManus, his fifth win in the traditional major prize of the seven-day extravaganza.
“I’ve had a good season and it’s thanks to J P, who is very good to me”, said a delighted Mullins. “It’s out of this world and hasn’t sunk in yet. He had a good run on the flat at Killarney and my son, David has been riding him at home.”
A year ago Paul Townend rode the winner, Blazing Tempo, and for a lot of this punishing two miles and six he had to think there was very chance of a repeat aboard Casey Top.
Leonard Whitmore’s charge bounced away in front and travelled and jumped like a dream for most of the journey. Cross Appeal was his nearest pursuer through the final circuit, but that one had no more to offer turning in.
At this stage Mark Walsh had worked Bob Lingo into the race and when he went between Casey Top and Cross Appeal, early in the straight, it wasobvious there was only going to be one winner.
Bob Lingo had loads in the tank and he stretched away to beat a gallant Casey Top by five lengths, withBlackstairmountain staying on for third, a further 12 lengths behind.
As Bob Lingo returned to the winner’s enclosure the track was hit by torrential rain. “I don’t care if it rains all night,” cracked Mullins. “He’s had a long season, but has held his form well. He was off the bridle for Mark (Walsh) early on and I thought if he makes any mistake will pack it in, he’s that kind of horse. He’s a hard horse to train and a hard horse to ride. I’d say he will get a break now, but is rated just 119 over hurdles and, I’d imagine, will try and exploit that at some stage.”
Walsh said: “That makes up for the last two years.” In 2010 he was due to ride eventual winner, Finger Onthe Pulse, but when Dancing Tornado came out of the contest, Tony McCoy replaced him on that horse. Then, last year, by his own admission, he went too soon on Wise Old Owl and they were collared by Blazing Tempo.
Continuing Walsh said: “The rain was a help, it loosened the ground. My only bother was from a loose horse four out and three out.”
Casey Top produced the performance of his life, but it will be interesting to note the handicapper’s reaction, considering how far clear of the third he finished.
Ruby Walsh’s fears, regarding the surface for Blackstairmountain, proved well founded. At no stage did they promise to take a hand, although Blackstairmountain did well enough to plug on into third spot.
Out Now went off a ridiculously short-priced 7-2 favourite. His jumping wasn’t good enough and when he dived at the fence past the stands, going out for the final time, didn’t seem to want to know after.
Dermot Weld took his total to five for the three days when Diplomat managed a last-gasp victory in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap.
The impressive Ronan Whelan went for glory on well-backed Our Conor early in the straight, but Diplomat gradually closed and nailed the leader in the last stride to win by the minimum margin, a short head.
“That was a brilliant ride by Pat (Smullen)”, said Weld. “It is now very testing ground and he changed his legs a few times. He stays, is a soft ground horse and will head to Naas next Monday.”
Winner number six soon arrived for Weld when long odds-on Tandem toyed with the opposition in the Tote Return All Profits To Irish Racing Maiden. Pushed into the lead up hill to the straight by Smullen, the Dansili colt steadily drew clear.
“He’s a fine, big progressive gelding and will run next in a conditions race”, reported Weld.
This was Weld’s 250th festival winner at Galway.
Willie Mullins struck for the first time this week when Fatcatinthehat justified some hefty market support in the Tote Marquee Maiden. Making his seasonal debut and backed from 11-4 to 2-1 favourite, the three-year-old won with any amount in hand.
Always travelling sweetly for Patrick Mullins, the winner eased ahead approaching the home turn and crossed the line six lengths clear of Weld’s Three Kingdoms, who enjoyed far from a clear passage.
Commented Willie: “I was a little worried about him getting the trip on the ground, but it appeared to be no problem. The last day he ran he got very upset, but we fitted him with ear-plugs here and was fine.”
Some decent wagers headed west when Too Scoops went under by a head to Gold Ability in the Tote Pick Six Maiden Hurdle. Too Scoops was backed from 2-1 to 11-8 favourite and looked sure to score coming away from the second last. But he didn’t find anything like what was promised and, in the end, was out-fought by Gold Ability and Robbie Colgan.
There was some close riding between the pair near the line, but a change in placings was never a possibility. Michael O’Hare trains Gold Ability and said: “We were worried about the ground, but it’s probably not as bad as we thought. He’s really tough, kept his head down and battled and will now go for a novice hurdle.”
Davy Russell partnered Too Scoops and it was a case of déjà vu for the pilot in the next, the New Website thetote.com Handicap Hurdle. He allowed Lough Ferrib lead over two out and the combination appeared to have the contest in safe keeping.
But again Lough Ferrib only flattered to deceive and Get In There gradually wore her down to score by three parts of a length. Get In There is trained by Sean Doyle from Wexford and this was his first ever runner at the festival. “We get two days (celebration) out of a point-to-point, this will probably go on for a week”, joked the delighted handler.
The mare was ridden by 7lbs claimer, Harley Dunne, and this was a third success on the track for him.
Novarov, having a first outing since the Punchestown festival in April, was produced fit and well by talented trainer, John O’Shea, to defy top weight in the Tote Jackpot Races 3 to 6 Handicap Hurdle. He was beautifully handled by David Splaine, enjoying a second win of the week. Novarov was always travelling sweetly on the pace and, despite blundering badly at the last, had eight and a half lengths to spare over Bondage.
* The attendance was 18,145 as against 19,251 last year.