Inis Meain, second to Call Me Bubbles here on Thursday evening, turned out again last night at Galway and proved what a tough customer he is when landing the featured Guinness Handicap.
He is trained at Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary by Denis Hogan, who is making a big name for himself.
Chris Hayes bounced Inis Meain away in front and the rapidly improving five-year-old never saw another horse.
He flew around the final turn and powered up the straight to beat Shamiran by an easy seven lengths.
Commented Hogan: “That was mighty, advisors were telling me I shouldn’t be running him.
“I was wide open to criticism, but have had this race in mind, as long as he had the rating.
“The horse who beat us last night must be a good one. I took him home, we are only about an hour away, because I wanted him to sleep in his own box. He ate up this morning and was as bright as a button.”
Otherwise it was a case of business as usual, at least to some extent, with Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen combining to land a double.
They began by taking the Guinness 17:59 EBF Auction Maiden with the newcomer, Muaanid.
The trainer was expecting a big run from the son of Kheleyf, but he was still light enough in the market and went off a 4-1.
They were generous odds, as Muaanid quickened ahead early in the straight to easily beat Aidan O’Brien’s well-backed King Of The Romans.
“That was a good workmanlike performance, he had it won a long way out,” said Weld.
“He was green and will come on a lot for the run. This is a colt I like and he could now run in a nursery and we will see where we go then.”
Pale Mimosa is a filly Weld rates very highly and she didn’t disappoint with a clear-cut 15 lengths success in the Guinness EBF Maiden.
This was her first outing of the campaign, she only ran once last season, but the daughter of Singspiel was always odds-on.
Smullen eased her to the front on the up hill run to the straight and she lengthened clear to beat Buckingham Gate with any amount in hand.
“The Galtres Stakes at York is what I have in mind,” reported Weld. “She will appreciate better ground.”
Weld has now trained eight winners so far this week, while Smullen's total is seven.
There was a setback for the Weld-Smullen partnership, however, when Notable Graduate could only manage third of four in the mile and six Guinness Race.
Available as high as 11-8 in the morning, he was a strong order through the day, going off at 4-5.
But Notable Graduate looked less than enthusiastic, with victory going to Dot Love’s Shadow Eile, who was sent on with six furlongs to go by Joseph O’Brien and made the rest.
Love said she would see how the horse is before deciding whether she might run again at Galway tomorrow, this time over hurdles.
Local trainer John Monroe enjoyed his first ever success at the festival when Muzak took the Guinness Handicap Hurdle.
Partnered with patience by Katie Walsh, Muzak swept past long-time leader Carlowsantana, coming away from the final flight to score by six lengths.
“He is in again here on Sunday and will take beating,” exclaimed a clearly delighted Monroe.
Another local trainer on the mark was Paul Gilligan, whose Wellforth won the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase.
Gilligan has had a horrendous couple of seasons, but there are signs of late that it is beginning to turn for him.
Barry Geraghty was in the plate and he committed the winner to the front over five out. Wellforth never flinched and had four lengths plus to spare over Agus A Vic at the line.
Said Gilligan: “He had a good run here earlier in the week, was out in a field yesterday and I was hoping wouldn’t be flat.
“It is great to have a winner at Galway, especially at the festival. I don’t know what will be next, I’ve no plans.”
Pat Flynn saddled his first winner of the week when Danny Grant drove South South West for all he was worth through the final furlong to hold Dermot Weld’s Stuccodor by a head in the Arthur Guinness Handicap.
South South West finished last at Wexford previously, but Flynn explained that he was drawn wide and could never get into the race.
The trainer was loud in his praise of Grant. “He’s one of the best jockeys in the country and if the horse is good enough he will win on it.”
The attendance was 20,368, as against 25,240 last year.
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