The bookmakers were left reeling after War Anthem, Mr Smith and Top Of The Town all landed morning gambles, with claims of six-figure sums being plundered.
We may never know the full details of this significant ‘touch’ but morning prices ranging from 16/1 (War Anthem) to 12/1 (Mr Smith) soon evaporated.
All three shortened dramatically and, in the cases of War Anthem and the third leg of the treble Top Of The Town, traded at significantly shorter prices than their SP
The treble kicked off when War Anthem, trained on the Flat by John Murphy, for whom he reached a rating of 66, and having his third run over hurdles for Byrnes, cruised to a smooth success in the Paul Byron Shoes Maiden Hurdle, beating William B and Henry Howard.
Byrnes declared: “The man (Russell) is a genius. This horse has been schooling nicely and jumped and travelled well. We’ll tip away with him.”
A 16-race maiden, who campaigned for John Gosden in England, Mr Smith had beaten just one rival in his last outing, behind King’s Wharf in a handicap hurdle in Killarney.
But, sent off 7/4 favourite for the J F Hanley Handicap Hurdle (Division 1), he came through to lead after the third last flight, made a slight mistake at the next but stayed on stoutly to beat Tb Broke Her in emphatic style.
A clearly relieved Byrnes said: “We were on our knees in Galway, but we’ve straightened up a bit. Davy is a deadly man —he pushed his way through on the inside down the back, trying to go the shortest way.”
And, after Top Of The Town completed the treble, landing the Class Grass Handicap Hurdle over just short of three miles, Byrnes conceded: “I did my brains in Galway, with Sea Light (twice) and Crystal Pearl. So we needed it.”
He added: “It’s my first treble. It’s just the way it happened. I wouldn’t say I planned it.
“The horses started coming into form over the last couple of weeks. And I was able to put it together — it would be impossible to plan it long-term.”
Top Of The Town came from mid-division to lead at the third last and, from that point, was in command, staying on to beat Russian Roulette by five lengths.
The father and son combination of Martin and Conor Brassil struck in the first juvenile hurdle of the season, the Railway Bar 3-Y-0 Maiden Hurdle, as 14/1 Auld Brig proved a convincing winner from Trespassed.
“He showed us nothing on the Flat, but Conor said in January that he’d start schooling him, to have him ready for this,” explained the winning trainer. “He loves jumping hurdles.”
Joseph O’Brien, who saddled beaten favourite Birthplace in the opener, enjoyed better luck when Hallmark, in the colours of JP McManus, captured the Eurona BriskNet Maiden Hurdle.
Uneasy in the market, in the face of support for Aretesone, and sent off 11/10 favourite, the Montjeu gelding, brought down on his hurdling bow in Tipperary, quickened well on the run-in for Mark Walsh and stretched clear to beat longtime leader Pateen by more than three lengths.
“He was unlucky in Tipperary — he was running a nice race when he was brought down,” stated Frank Berry, representing McManus.
“He learned a bit that day and jumped pretty well today.”
David Mullins brought Lasoscar from last to first to win the second division of the J F Hanley Handicap Hurdle for Liam Cusack while Dan McGrue, owned and trained by John Nicholson and ridden by J J ( Johnny) Slevin, sprang a surprise in the bumper, making a successful debut at odds of 20/1.