A shade unlucky when second to Early Doors in last year’s Tote Galway Plate, Royal Rendezvous refused to be denied a second time, digging deep to repel stablemate Easy Game and Modus in Wednesday’s Ballybrit feature.
Always towards the head of affairs, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old jumped impeccably with the exception of the second last and responded to Paul Townend’s every urge to land the spoils at odds of 5-1.
Reflecting on his second Galway Plate success, Mullins said: “Coming home from here last year we thought we’d try and make this the plan if things worked out and the horse seemed to come into tremendous form over the last two weeks. I was really pleased with him.
“He looked a picture for the last few weeks at home and we were just counting down the days, hoping we might have a bit of luck and it all worked out.”
Mullins added: “I thought he got away in the right position and then I wondered if he was going too free but he was jumping fantastically, his jumping kept him in the game, Paul said he kept gaining a length or two over every fence and he was able to pull him back and get a breath of air into him after each one so he had enough in reserve.”
Reflecting on the 2020 renewal, Mullins said: “Last year he was just unlucky, he got knocked on the bend coming up the hill. He was rated 7lb higher this year but he's improving. He’s a late developer, I think. Going right-handed is a help, but at one stage I didn't think he'd stay this sort of trip. The way he races now we could probably go further with him even.”
Much has happened to Townend since Blazing Tempo gave him and Mullins a first Plate success a decade ago but the memory of last year’s frustration made this success all the sweeter.
“His jumping was unreal,” Townend said. “If I didn't wing the last I might have struggled to get going again up the hill, and that's what cost me a little bit last year.
“I was just looking for jumps in the dip and when I jumped the first of them, I was thinking: 'Oh no, is this going to be like last year again?'
“I jumped the second of them really well and that momentum kind of got me up around the bend until we straightened up to fully commit.”
And full commitment was required from horse and jockey as rivals queued up to challenge on the run from home. However, none could get by and nobody could deny that Royal Rendezvous warranted his day in the sun.