Road lands Plate Riches for Meade

Noel Meade, a trainer with a long history at Galway, saddled his first winner of the Plate when Road To Riches ran his rivals ragged at Ballybrit yesterday.

It was simply a first class performance on the part of the affable Co Meath handler.

After his charge had finished second at the Punchestown festival in early May, the decision was made to put him aside for this massive prize.

“When he ran at Punchestown, Eddie (O’Leary) said he was a right one for the Plate”, reported Meade. O’Leary could hardly have been proved more right.

Superbly guided by rising star, Shane Shortall, the seven-year-old gave a magnificent exhibition of jumping and powerful galloping.

Shortall said that Plan A was the make the running, but it was coming away from the third before he had Rags To Riches striding along in the lead.

What followed was breathtaking. Rags To Riches never gave those behind any cause for optimism, as he bounded across each obstacle as it arose.

He flew the last two fences, but still we waited for the petrol gauge to inevitably run dry. It was never going to happen.

Shortall had saved plenty and Rags To Riches roared around the final bend. Then he powered up to the line a whopping 11 lengths clear of Burn and Turn, with Balnaslow, like the winner, also owned by Gigginstown House Stud, just three parts of a length away in third.

“The key to the horse is good ground”, said Meade. “He went a fair gallop, but was always comfortable. The way he jumped, he was always giving himself a chance.”

Ger Fox was originally booked to ride Rags To Riches, but broke his collarbone at Wexford last Friday and so Shortall came off the bench.

Continuing, Meade said: “That’s the first time he has ridden for me. I am absolutely delighted to win this race, it was the only big one I hadn’t won here. I think we were second three or four times.

“We bought him off Martin Cullinane, who is only five or six miles up the road, so it was a case of back to Galway. I’d say he’s finished with handicaps after that, but we believe he’s a Graded horse.

“He was going so well up the hill that I said to Willie Mullins, Jesus did I forget to put the lead cloth on.”

Shortall (22) comes from outside Moate, near Athlone, Co Westmeath. This was a 16th career-win.

Said Shortall: “He was brilliant, once I took him to the front, I never saw another horse. Words can’t describe how I feel. This is what you dream about when you come to Galway as a kid.”

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