The 2020 running of the Guinness Galway Hurdle was almost a carbon copy of the 2018 renewal in which Sharjah carried top weight to victory for Patrick and Willie Mullins. But this was even better.
Aramon provided this success for the Mullins team, running off a 9lb higher mark and carrying 3lbs more than his stablemate. He travelled in similarly powerful fashion and, like his stable companion two years ago, found plenty for late pressure.
It was anticipated that Felix Desjy would make the running, but the favourite missed the kick and was no better than midfield when crashing out at the second hurdle. Meanwhile, British raider Hunters Call took up the running with the winner sitting close to the pace.
They remained that way until turning in for the second time. From there Patrick moved upsides, let his mount pop the last, and then asked for his effort. Hearts Are Trumps ran a huge race to briefly put it up to him, but his effort was in vain as Aramon asserted to the line. Petit Mouchoir ran another fine race to finish third, with long-time leader Hunters Call in fourth.
Of his mount’s achievement in shouldering top weight to victory, Mullins said: “It’s incredible, and, on top of that, lugging me around, so no easy feat.
“I thought he might be placed, but I thought he showed his hand in Tipperary. With all yesterday’s rain I thought that was our chance gone, but when I got here today and had a walk around and had a look at the time of the first race, I thought this ground isn’t too slow, so we decided we were going to be positive, roll the dice, and it worked out.
“We all thought Felix Desjy was going to make the running – I’m not sure what happened to him – I ended up jumping the first in front. I saw Denis (O’Regan, on Hunters Call) go by me, and Denis wouldn’t be known for setting strong fractions so once he had gone to the front I decided to come wide so I wouldn’t get caught in behind him, and as long as Denis was in front I was happy we were going fractions that were going to suit the front runners.
“Ruby said to me Aramon has got a great turn of foot as long as you hold onto him in the dip, so I was just holding on to him as long as I could. We didn’t meet the last fantastically, but he’s so quick. It was one of those straightforward races. We got to set our own fractions which turned it into a sprint which probably negated the weight.”
Appreciating his second win in the week’s feature, Mullins added: “It’s an iconic race. You’d have the Galway Hurdle over the vast majority of Grade 1s. Being my weight, I thought I might get to ride in it but never thought I might get to win it once, let alone twice.
“It wasn’t even a dream to win it, but when you’re riding for my father, anything is possible. He’s an incredible man.”
The winning trainer doubled up when Jon Snow, ridden by Paul Townend, justified long odds-on favouritism in the Guinness Novice Hurdle.
Denis Hogan made his last outing in the saddle a winning one aboard Bua Boy in the Arthur Guinness Handicap Hurdle and, for good measure, also saddled the runner-up. With the stable making striking advances this season, headed by the twice Group 1-placed Sceptical, Hogan has made the decision to concentrate on training.
“It’s hard to let go, but I really enjoyed that,” said Hogan. ““I like Galway, and I always did. I always trained everything for Galway and I just thought if ever there was a time to go and to leave the job, it was here. It’s my favourite track.
“I’m happy to concentrate on the training job now. We have a lot of good flat horses and Mick Halford will be happy because he’s been telling me for years to give up that riding craic. Ted’s been telling me, Ruby’s hinted at it once or twice, but it was my decision and I’m looking forward to the future.”
A late gamble on Red Gerry never looked like being landed in the Guinness Novice Hurdle as he trailed in a disappointing sixth behind Guinevere, trained by Ray Cody and ridden by Simon Torrens.
The winner was no match for Anna Bunina on her recent return to hurdling but stepped up considerably this time. With a strong late charge the daughter of Camelot swept past long-time leader Politicise to land the spoils. Later in the season she will bid to emulate stablemate Razoul, who won the Lartigue Hurdle in his four-year-old season.
Court Maid ran out an easy winner of the Guinness Open Gate Brewery Beginners’ Chase for Tom and David Mullins. She and Karl Der Grosse traded the lead a number of times and there was little to separate them over the final fence. When push came to shove, the mare found plenty and galloped away to beat favourite Doctor Duffy by a wide margin.
Polished Steel followed up his recent winning debut over fences at Tipperary with a facile success in the Grade 3 Rockshore Novice Chase. The departure of Russian Diamond at the first fence past the stands certainly made the winner’s task easier but that should take nothing away from him as he jumped to the front at the first, jumped well through the race, and quickened away from the back of the last to win in great style for Robbie Power and Jessica Harrington.
Evergreen 11-year-old The Trigger, trained by Ronan McNally and ridden this time by Mark Walsh, secured his fourth win of the month when taking the Open Gate Pure Brew Handicap Hurdle. The finale was the Guinness Time Flat race and Slige Dala raced home clear for Galway Plate-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Tom Hamilton.