Galway Hurdle Highlights
Mick Winters: Rebel Fitz & Missunited
There must have been a few anxious moments for the connections of Rebel Fitz as he and the celebrating Davy Russell just held on from the fast finishing Cause of Causes in 2012. Davy Russell had eased his mount a few strides before the finish but was nearly left red-faced.
The 11/2 joint second favourite looked well in off a mark of 145 having won a Grade 3 Hurdle at Tipperary. He was dropped in off a decent pace set by Fosters Cross and English raider Unknown Rebel. It was an eventful race as the favourite backers faith was decided early, as 4/1 favourite Drive Time fell at the 4th bringing down Donald McCain’s Lexis Boy in the process. Coming around the home turn Rebel Fitz was travelling ominously well and when Russell pressed the button, the response was instant. There’s no doubt Cause of Causes was an unlucky loser, as Davy Condon took the brave mans route up the inside and had to delay his challenge until after the last.
The relieved Mick Winters stated: “Coming down the hill I thought we were beat and I thought on the line we were beaten”.
It’s winners like these that make racing what it is, the small trainer winning a big race.
The now 9 year old gelding is recently known for his chasing exploits winning the Grade 1 Powers Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival.
Mick would hardly believe that 12 Months on he would win another Galway Hurdle with the admirably tough mare Missunited. But the confident Cork man had it all planned.
“I had this race mapped out for her for twelve months and now I’d love to see her coming up the hill in Cheltenham”.
Sadly that dream hasn’t been lived as she has only been seen on the flat since, winning two Listed races. Her most admirable performance was recently at Royal Ascot in the Gold Cup, where she was sent off an unconsidered 40/1 shot. She made most of the running and battled on bravely to finish a close third to Leading Light and nearly snatch second back.
At Galway, the Flat bred mare was a very impressive winner as she powered home to beat Flaxen Flare by over three lengths. The versatile mare although unsuited by the soft going went off a well fancied 7/1 second favourite, having previously broken the track record on the flat at Leopardstown when finishing second to Pale Mimosa.
Winning jockey Robbie Power got a late call to ride the mare as Jason Maguire couldn’t do the weight and he gave her a great ride, sitting on the heels of the leaders before making the decisive move to the front a couple of furlongs from home.
A delighted Mick Winters said: “It’s super to win it back-to-back. Last year I had to muck out the next morning but this year I’m prepared and I have a few on to work”.
Unfortunately Mick probably doesn’t have anything of the calibre of the aforementioned to run in the race this year, so another possible success and crazy celebration might have to wait for a few more years.
By Sean Jackson / Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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