The remarkable Busted Tycoon became the first horse to win three times at the Festival when getting up late under Ruby Walsh to land the Vision Express Mares Handicap Hurdle while Weld emerged as the meeting’s leading trainer for the twenty-seventh time (outright) when Notable Graduate captured the Trappers Inn Maiden Hurdle.
Successful in flat handicaps on Tuesday and Saturday, Busted Tycoon was sent off 11/10 favourite as she reverted to hurdling and attempted to complete a six-timer in the mares event.
Patiently ridden, she was challenging Theonewiththeleg when ‘missing’ the final flight. But the determination of both the mare and the former champion proved crucial on the run-in as Busted Tycoon got up to triumph by a half-length.
Martin declared: “You could never dream of having eight winners here. It’s so competitive and you need plenty of luck along the way. This is a unique meeting and you have to set your stall out early and plan ahead.
“She’s a smashing mare, very versatile, and will have a break now. The key was the way Shane (Shortall) rode her yesterday. He left a bit in the tank for today.”
Despite Martin’s superb haul of eight winners, the training plaudits over the week went, again, to Dermot Weld, who matched his 2010 total of eleven winners, a tally he has only beaten once, with seventeen winners in 2011. This was the first occasion on which Weld has trained a winner on each of the seven days of the meeting. And Notable Graduate, which provided his trainer with a third consecutive win in the Trappers Inn maiden Hurdle, was Derek O’Connor’s first winner for the Curragh trainer.
The gelding’s intended rider Robbie McNamara made it known to Weld yesterday morning that he would be unable to do the weight on Notable Graduate. A request for Ruby Walsh to deputise was turned down by the Stewards, opening the door for the booking of O’Connor. The situation with McNamara was referred to the CEO of the Turf Club for further investigation.
In the race, Notable Graduate had to work hard, after a mistake at the final hurdle. to master front-running The Black Russian by a length and three-quarters.
Narrowly denied at Tipperary last time, Ballyfin Boy gave owner/trainer/breeder Jimmy Finn a day to remember when landing the featured Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase, the biggest win of his training career.
Ridden by Eddie O’Connell and racing off bottom-weight, the grey stayed on dourly to beat Toner D’Oudairies by eight and a half lengths.
Finn said: “When the weights came out he was going to be 8lb. out of the handicap. But everything turned out right — he was spot-on with 9-10, stays well and his stamina was needed.”
Darwins Fox, runner-up on the flat on Wednesday, opened his account over fences for Henry de Bromhead and Andrew Lynch when readily brushing aside Nearest The Pin in the opening beginners chase. A step into handicap company and more restrained tactics are planned for John Brennan’s seven-year-old.
De Bromhead’s Miller Of Glanmire started favourite for the Galway Shopping Centre Flat Race (maiden bumper) but could finish only fifth behind Top Othe Ra, having his second run at the meeting and providing another milestone at the Festival for the Mullins dynasty.
Top Othe Ra is trained by Tom Mullins for his wife Helen and was a second career winner, and a first at the Festival, for their son David.
The Fr. Breen Mrmorial Pro-Am Flat Race, the winners’ bumper, saw the Philip Rothwell-trained debutant Merrion Row (20/1) come through late under Mikey Fogarty to provide a shock in the Festival finale.
“He’s just a good horse and I was nervous about it all week, ” said Rothwell. “I didn’t want to run him in a twenty-runner bumper and pitched him into this instead. He’s a real chaser-in-the-making.”