Galway: Quick victory on Day 1
Quick Jack was a comfortable winner of the Connacht Hotel Handicap, the feature race on Day 1 of the Galway Festival. Probably the most positive of people’s picks on the opening day, Quick Jack was sent off the 4/1 jolly of the 20 runner field and duly obliged for favourite backers, on what would ultimately be a bad day for the favourite fanciers.
Tony Martin’s charge, runner up in a 1m 4f handicap at the festival last year, finished last season in fantastic form on the level and warmed up for this with a fine effort over hurdles at Leopardstown. Stephen Clements, having his first ride on the 5yo, was charged with the tricky job of holding his mount up in rear, as is the usual tactic, but he did the job with aplomb, hitting the front at just the ride time to see off Dermot Weld’s Grecian Tiger by 3 lengths, with Fire Fighter back in third.
Martin said: “He might not get into the Galway Hurdle but he’s in a mile-and-a-half handicap and he’s also in a hurdle race on Friday.
“We’ll see how he is on Thursday morning and we’ll give him plenty of time between now and then. He’s done his job so he’s under no pressure to pull out again.
“After finishing second in the November Handicap, we thought he’d have a nice weight for this. He’s improving all the time and hopefully there’ll be some more left after this. He’s a right little horse and never lets us down.”
The day kicked off with a win for the Willie Mullins team, when the lightly raced McKinley took the opening Novice Hurdle under Paul Townend. The 4yo had only joined Mullins in February of this year and had finally delivered on the promise he had shown on the flat when scoring over timber at Sligo last time.
Despite this, he was sent off a general 7/1 shot for the 2 mile contest and having jumped sweetly throughout, showed real battling quality to beat the Denis Hogan trained and ridden Ridestan by 2 1/4 lengths, with Morga back in third. 15/8 favourite Manhattan Swing flopped badly, eventually finishing 6th of the eight runners.
Mullins said: “He’s improving and his jumping is improving. He’s getting more confidence. He handled the ground fairly well. I thought it was a very hot race beforehand. I’m very happy he has improved from his maiden.”
Aidan O’Brien loosened Dermot Weld’s grip on the claregalwayhotel.ie maiden when the Galileo colt Jamaica, put in a classy performance to easily see off the Weld trained Postulation by a comfortable 3 1/4 lengths. O’Brien’s charge had shown plenty of ability when a fine second behind stablemate and subsequent Group 3 winner Gleneagles on debut at the Curragh last month and could have a big future ahead of him.
Aidan O’Brien said: “He had a nice first run and came forward well from it. You’d have to be very happy with that – he seems to have learnt plenty.
“He won’t mind the step up and could go for the Futurity (Curragh, August 24) now. He should get a mile.”
Weld would finally get off the mark at his beloved Galway for this year, when Timiyan impressively took the 1m 4f handicap on his first foray into handicap company. Having faced testing ground in his three maiden starts, the son of Ghostzapper was much more at home on today’s quick ground, romping clear to score by 5 lengths from the front running Resiliency.
Weld said: “He’s a nice staying horse. They went a cracking gallop all the way and he got a great ride from Pat (Smullen).
“The step up in trip helped and being gelded helped, too. He’s a late-maturing horse who appreciated the better ground. The mile and a half suits him well.”
Weld would ultimately end the day with disappointment, with the well fancied Call Vinnie being turned over in the concluding bumper by Thomas Mullins’ Princely Conn. Sent off the 5/4 favourite under our sponsored jockey Robbie McNamara, the impressive Point winner just couldn’t reel in Mullins’ charge in the closing stages, with the five time bumper performer eventually holding on by 2 3/4 lengths.
There was also wins on the day for Henry de Bromhead’s Beckwith Star in the 2 mile handicap hurdle and Andy Oliver’s Expensive Taste in the 7 furlong handicap.
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
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