Andy Slattery’s terrific season continues apace, and the rapidly progressive and heavily backed Creggs Pipes (11-2f) gave him plenty of reason for Galway cheer when making all in the valuable Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap on day two of the Festival.
Ridden by Declan McDonogh and seeking a fourth consecutive victory, the Rip Van Winkle filly took a couple of lengths out the field early, and it was an advantage she never looked like relinquishing. Top Notch Tonto made rapid late gains into second place, but came up a length and three parts shy.
The thrilled Tipperary trainer admitted this wasn’t the plan: “She stays well, and the rain definitely helped, but this wasn’t the plan. But when the handicapper gave her 2lb for winning the listed race at Killarney, we entered her the following day.
“He gave her two more for standing in her stable, but she’s very progressive. She’s in the Matron Stakes (Group 1) and we might let her take her chance now.”
How easy to get lost in the business of extoling the qualities of the obvious, but getting away from such is impossible when one assesses the opening novice hurdle won by the Willie Mullins-trained Penhill, under an inspired Ruby Walsh.
The plan to go out and make all looked good until the horse met the first hurdle wrong and lost a couple of lengths - and the lead.
He was worse at the second, where he forfeited twice as much ground, and thereafter was on the back-foot to such an extent he traded at 1000 on Betfair.
But Walsh persisted and the talented flat horse, who bled last time and has quite a bit to learn about jumping, responded to the handling. Rushing into contention at the last, he fluffed his lines once more but, with a quick switch inside, picked up strongly along the rails to snatch victory from stable companion Master Of Verse, with the well-backed favourite, Oathkeeper, a close third.
Said Mullins: “The plan was to make the running, but he lost about six lengths over the first two, and Ruby decided to take him back out of the race and concentrate on getting him jumping.
“I had written him off at halfway, and was looking to see where the other horse was. But then I saw Ruby looming along the inside. It was a spectacular ride - to do that with a horse that wasn’t jumping.”
The Latin Quarter Beginners’ Chase went to 66-1 chance Talk The Lingo, trained in Castlemartyr, Co Cork by Joe Hennessy and bred by his wife, Bernie.
The half-brother to 2012 Galway Plate winner Bob Lingo benefitted from a positive ride from Barry Cash and found plenty to hold the late thrust of favourite Briar Hill, by a head.
“He improved an awful lot since his last run, and we knew he’d run well,” said Hennessy.
“The ground was right for him, but he wouldn’t do a tap in front.
“The horse is a bit of a veteran, and so is Barry.
“His half-brother, Bob Lingo, won the Galway Plate a few years ago, so this fellow might be back next year for the Plate.”
It was business as usual for Dermot Weld, who took the two flat maidens, with exciting two-year-old filly Eziyra and gelding Sikandarabad.
The former was backed from 4-6 to 2-5 on the show, and obliged with some style. A slow start threatened to hamper her chance but jockey Pat Smullen worked to get her into a prominent position and, after hitting the front before the turn for home, she stayed to score with authority.
“She’s still a big immature filly,” said Weld.
“She still has a lot to learn about racing. It’s hard to come from a wide draw if you don’t break quickly, which she didn’t, so a lot of that was done on raw ability.
“I think she will handle very fast ground. She has a lot of potential, and will hopefully go on to be a group filly before the year is out.”
Weld completed his double in the following race when Sikandarabad was sent to the front early by Smullen, and always looked to be doing enough to fend off market rival Saafarr.
“His only previous run, at Leopardstown, was a good one, so he had the form,” said Weld.
“He was held up in the spring, and we gelded him, which knocked the stuffing out of him. But he can go on from here. The second horse was rated 93 so we’re probably looking at a listed race or a Premier Handicap.”
Declan McDonogh, successful in the feature, doubled up aboard Beau Satchel in the Caulfield Handicap. Ado McGuinness’s experienced handicapper was winning the race for the second consecutive year.
Water Sprite ran out the easiest winner of the day when taking the concluding Caulfieldindustrial.com Handicap for Gordon Elliott. Jockey Michael Hussey brought her through along the inside to lead into the straight and, after going clear, won easing down.
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