CHARLIE SWAN, who won three Champion Hurdles on Istabraq for Aidan O’Brien, teamed up with the Ballydoyle trainer’s son, Joseph, to land the featured Guinness Handicap with Rajik at Galway last night.
“It’s pay-back time”, remarked Swan, after the youngster had brought the 14-1 shot with a powerful late surge to score going away by a length and three parts from Scandal Sheet, with favourite, Natural High, finishing a disappointing third.
“I actually fancied Zaralabad (his other runner)”, said Swan. “He was working great, but got murdered through the race.
“I was a bit worried the mile and a half was a bit sharp for Rajik. Joseph has a great racing brain.
“I told him to jump out handy, but he missed the kick and then moved to plan B. If the horse is alright, he could run again here on Sunday.” For Joseph it was a fourth winner of the week.
Natural High, backed at 9-4 in the morning, was returned at 13-8. He looked sure to score when shooting on off the home turn.
But his stride soon began to shorten and the game really was up when he swished his tail when the pressure was applied by Pat Smullen.
Dermot Weld hasn’t, however, given up on Natural High. He said: “The trip was a bit sharp. The Ebor (York) is a possibility, he can do better.”
Weld equalled his previous best at the meeting when Raffaello Santi took his total for the week to ten, grabbing the Galway Publicans’ EBF Maiden.
This saw Smullen at his very best, as he drove the Medicean gelding to a hard-fought head defeat of Battleoftrafalgar.
Said Weld: “That was a great ride from the jockey. The horse battled and will now go handicapping.”
Charles Byrnes’ Kalellshan became the first horse to win twice at the meeting, defying top weight to take the Guinness Handicap Hurdle with plenty to spare.
The very capable James Carroll reduced his welter burden of 12-8 by 5lbs and soon had his charge striding along in front.
Kalellshan jumped for fun and only had to be pushed out from the last to beat Turner Brown by three and a half lengths.
“He did it very well and was always in control”, said Byrnes. “I’ve no plan, he could go back chasing and I’m sure he will head to Listowel.”
In 1978 Niall Madden rode Shining Flame to win the Galway Plate for J P McManus. That’s a relationship which has clearly stood the test of time and the duo combined to land the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase with Wins Now.
The 20-1 shot was partnered by Madden’s son, also Niall, and the pilot was certainly seen to real advantage.
He literally lifted Wins Now home a head in front of King Ali, the latter being rather less vigorously handled by his inexperienced rider, 7lbs claimer Tony Kelly, near the line.
Said Madden senior: “That was nice, he has been disappointing, but always runs well round here. The better ground was a big help.”
The stewards had Kelly in and they concluded he had stopped riding before the finish. He was suspended for ten days and it was hard to quibble with that verdict.
Seamus Heffernan rode his first winner of the week when producing Days Ahead with a late burst beat Elusive Art by three lengths in the Arthur Guinness Handicap.
Trainer Eoin Doyle - this was a second for him - reported: “He ran well at Killarney, but we were worried the ground had gone too quick. He’s a big strong horse and we hope to have a good campaign over hurdles with him.”
When Not If, trained by Kevin Prendergast for former trainer, Jeremy Harley, totally outclassed the opposition in the Guinness 17.59 EBF Auction Maiden.
She was best for money in the ring as well and had this in safe keeping once asked to lengthen into the lead by Declan McDonogh approaching the home turn.
The Guinness Race, over a mile and six, saw Pop Rock and Fran Berry power clear from the turn in to beat Caesar’s Song. Previously runner-up in both the Melbourne and Japan Cups, he is trained by Takashi Kodama.
The attendance last night was 23,054, up from 18,258 last year.
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