Bill shows Meade hasn’t lost touch

The days when Noel Meade was a major force at Galway are in the distant past, but he showed last night he hasn’t lost the touch when saddling Curley Bill to land the featured Guinness Handicap.

Bill shows Meade hasn’t lost touch

“I’m delighted for different reasons,” said Meade. He soon revealed what the principal one was.

“I sold him to a few fellows before he ran badly in a maiden hurdle at Punchestown,” he continued. “We shook on it, but they didn’t pay. I’m not going to say who it was, but they know who they are.”

Curley Bill never looked happy on the ground and had it all to do in ninth place with just four furlongs to run.

But he soon powered forward for Fran Berry driving and stayed on strongly to beat Bayan by a head.

“Fran gave him a super ride, he didn’t like the ground and had to be coaxed,” continued Meade. “That was a long last 50 yards. He is in here in a maiden hurdle on Sunday, but I don’t know whether he will run or not.”

Dermot Weld made it winner number nine for the week when the heavily backed Unaccompanied dug down deep to land the Guinness Race.

In very testing conditions, Pat Smullen sat off the strong pace and had three or four lengths to make up on Fleur De Nuit off the home turn

But gradually Unaccompanied reeled in the leader and was nicely on top close home to score by a length.

“She had to work hard, the ground is exceptionally gluey and tacky,” related Weld. “She’s a good tough mare, but needed all of her experience, and her rider’s experience, to win.”

Aidan O’Brien struck for the first time this week when Agreement, absent for 93 days, took the Guinness EBF Maiden.

The Galileo colt was somewhat uneasy in the market and looked in trouble when having to be driven along up hill to the straight by Joseph O’Brien.

But he responded generously and was soon in complete control, crossing the line five lengths to the good.

Commented Aidan: “I thought he wasn’t fit enough for that ground, he had a big hold-up after Tipperary.”

Weld’s Backdrop was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the Guinness 17:59 EBF Median Auction Maiden, finding 9-10 from 6-4.

She was soon in front, but folded very tamely once headed off the home turn by eventual winner, Hidden Oasis, who stretched right away to score by ten lengths.

Hidden Oasis is trained by David Wachman for J P McManus. Frank Berry represented McManus and said: “We thought he’d win at Fairyhouse, he was quite disappointing.”

The Lawman gelding was ridden by Berry’s son, Fran, initiating a double, later completed aboard Curley Bill.

McManus enjoyed a 1-2 in the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase when Mouse Morris’ Bruff beat Philip Rothwell’s Ballyburke, the former coasting six lengths clear in the straight in the hands of Niall Madden.

Commented Berry senior: “He jumped away grand, Slippers gave him a good old ride.”

Tony Martin took his total for the week to six when Woodsophiesmile arrived late to grab the Arthur Guinness Handicap.

She was slow into stride and turned for home on the inside, with a lot to do back in a remote sixth.

But they had obviously gone too fast in front and Wayne Lordan forced her through late to beat New Regalia by a head.

Said Martin: “You couldn’t believe it, could you? She missed the break, but he (Lordan) didn’t panic and she came home well.”

Bookmakers, badly in need of some respite, got a decent result in the concluding Guinness Handicap Hurdle when 25-1 shot Reafadda led off the home turn to do the business for rider Pat King and Templemore, Co Tipperary trainer John Ryan.

- The attendance was 23,555, as against 20,368 last year.

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