Karl Hedley reviews the latest action from over the sea
Ihave seleected a few eye-catchers from the Galway Festival at the end of July that may pay to follow this season as well as a few other runners from subsequent meetings as we head into twilight of summer and the onset of early autumn. I
Michael O’Callaghan got the Galway Festival off to t fine start as his progressive two-year-old son of Magician. I Am Magic shed his maiden at the third attempt under rules for local jockey Leigh Roche. The pair made all in the opening maiden over seven furlongs.
Runner-up on his previous outing at Naas, the colt broke well and Roche was able to dictate the pace without any competition for the lead. He won his race when slipping a few lengths clear coming out of the dip although things got desperate in the final hundred yards as his pursuers closed.
In the end, I Am Magic just held the challenges of market principals Anchorage and Duke De Sessa by a neck and a head. The winner, a 95,000 Euro breeze-up purchase, replicated Naas form almost to the pound with the runner-up, having finished a head in front of him on their previous clash earlier this month. The meeting started on officially yielding ground (from good to yielding in the morning) after some rain before racing.
Winning owner/trainer Michael O’Callaghan said: “It was a lovely performance, he is a nice horse and we thought a lot of him. The plan was to make every post a winning post and he got the fractions right.
“He travelled very strong, has plenty of natural pace and Leigh said he was just getting lonely in front. It is tough to make the running here but we’ve found it a way of keeping things simple as well. We think he’ll improve again, will get a mile and we’ll step him up to Stakes company now. He has a Futurity Stakes entry but we’ll look at a few options in the UK as well. I’m delighted with the performance, he isn’t a one-dimensional horse (tacticswise) and Leigh will be delighted to get a winner at his home track.”
Nibiru kept on well to take second, with the consistent No Thanks a further two lengths away in third at the line. The favourite Mr Coldstone was unable to land a blow in seventh.
Citronnade was in the front rank throughout before seeing out the mile and a half trip really well to win the Eventus Handicap in the hands of Shane Foley. The handicap debutante, a maiden winner last time having lost first place in the stewards’ room on her penultimate outing, was able to go along at a fairly sedate gallop before being asked for more entering the final quarter mile. Kirsten Rausing’s homebred was pursued all the way up the straight by Port Sunlight but was always holding that one’s challenge as she scored by three quarters of a length.
Razdan, had been held up towards rear, met trouble in running when the pace quickened before running on to take third spot. After Maud Gonne Spirit earlier, Citronnade was completing a 151/1 double for Foley and winning trainer Jessica Harrington.
The winning rider commented: “She is a grand mare, wears her heart on her sleeve and tries very, very hard. She was unfortunate to lose the race at the Curragh, it was partly my fault and she was good in Killarney. I thought she'd appreciate the track and when the rain came it was all the better. She stays and will have no problem getting two miles. She's won off 85 and will get another little hike for that but there could be another handicap to be won on her way to looking for black-type.”
What started as a great meeting for Jessica Harrington was plunged into chaos on day two as newcomer
Alizarine was disqualified following an identity mix-up. Despite running out a cosy winner of the maiden, she produced a fine burst of acceleration to see off Twinkle by a length and threequarters. However, around 25 minutes after the race, an objection was lodged into the identity of Alizarine, with the stewards eventually awarding the race to Twinkle. Another Harringtontrained runner later on the card, the three-year-old Aurora Princess, was subsequently withdrawn by order of the stewards.
Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board communications manager Niall Cronin said in a statement: “All horses are checked on arrival. Alizarine is in Galway, she arrived here with the rest of Mrs Harrington’s runners, Aurora Princess also being one of them. Mrs Harrington didn’t saddle the runners for that race herself but subsequently has accepted full responsibility for what has happened. In the inquiry itself she expressed the similarity between the two fillies. I think she referred to them as being almost identical, she may have even said that they were like twins. When the winner of race two arrived back to be checked again by the IHRB officials, prior to the winner alright being announced, the filly could not be positively identified. Further examination by the IHRB veterinary officer confirmed that the filly was indeed Aurora Princess so an objective was lodged by the veterinary officer.
“The stewards enquired into the matter and Mrs Harrington accepted that the wrong filly had run. She held her hands up and accepted full responsibility. The stewards, using their power under 262 (iv) c, disqualified Alizarine. It’s an unfortunate incident. Because of the time restraints on a raceday the matter has been referred on to allow for a full investigation.”
Despite the confusion from the night before, racing resumed the following day and the highlight of the week, The Galway Plate was centre stage and was run over two miles and six furlongs. The 5/1 favourite Royal Rendezvous who finished second to Early Doors in this last year, went one place better in this renewal in the hands of Paul Townend.
Always towards the head of affairs and in a good jumping rhythm, the 9-year-old went on after the last two fences in the dip and had a healthy advantage turning for home. Brought to the stands’ side rail by Townend, the winner had his lead eroded in the final furlong but kept going well to score by a length from stablemate Easy
Game. There was a further length and a quarter back to Modus in third with The Shunter completing the placings.
Winning trainer Willie Mullins, previously successful in this event with Blazing Tempo (also partnered by Townend) ten years ago and getting off the mark for the week, said: “Coming home from here last year we said to ourselves we'd make this the plan again. The horse just seemed to come into tremendous form in the last three weeks.
“I was really pleased with him and you could even see it in him before the race. The dapples in his coat, he was like a horse getting ready for the Dublin Horse Show rather than coming here. He just looked a picture for the last three weeks at home and I was counting down the days and hoping we might have a bit of luck. It all worked out.
“I thought he got away in the right position and then I wondered if he was too free. He was jumping fantastically. He absolutely flew the fence past the stands and just got racing again with a circuit to race and I wondered if he was just doing a bit too much too soon, but his jumping just kept him in the game.”
“Paul said his jumping kept gaining him a length or two over his fences and he was able to pull him back and get a breath of air into him after each one so he had enough in reserve. Last year he was just unlucky, he got knocked down on the bend coming up the hill. He was rated 7lb higher this year but he's improving. He's a late developer. Going right-handed is a help, but at one stage I didn't think he'd stay this sort of trip but the way he races now we could probably go further with him even. I'd imagine he will go up in grade now.”
Away from Galway and a few days later at Naas, Albula put in a professional performance on debut to win the opening juvenile fillies' maiden in Naas over a mile. On paper it looked a particularly hot race and it was market leader Magical Lagoon who took the field along closely attended to by Dabana.
Magical Lagoon came under a drive a furlong and a half out and was passed by Dabana with Albula winding up her challenge in third. Albula soon moved into a threatening second and overwhelmed Daban in the final 100 yards.
The Galileo filly kept on well to score by a comfortable length and a quarter. Dabana, who was third on debut at Gowran Park, is going the right way and filled the runner-up spot. James Barrett's newcomer Precocious Time got up for third, beaten two and three quarter lengths by the winner. Joseph O'Brien said: “She won nicely and Declan (McDonogh) gave her a lovely ride. We liked her at home, I'm surprised that she won but we thought she'd run a nice race. She's an exciting filly. She'll step into a Listed or Group race now.”
Later on the same card there was an extremely valuable Stakes race worth €300,000 to the winner. Sacred
Bridge confirmed herself to be a topdrawer juvenile when keeping her unbeaten record intact. T
The filly had plenty of work to do in pursuit of Hadman who had been ridden to take a few lengths out of the field a furlong and a half out. The leader edged left and opened the door to the closers approaching the final furlong. Sacred Bridge really found her stride under Colin Keane and was ridden into the lead in the final 100 yards.
British-raider Bosh ran after her but she hit the line half a length clear, to the joy of favourite backers. Bosh was well supported this morning and ran accordingly, whilst Ultramarine put in good late work do defy his overpriced odds.
Assistant trainer Shane Lyons said: “That was a tough ask with her penalty. Obviously we were attracted by this race with the sponsors, Ballyhane and Joe Foley, and the big pot. We're glad it's over. Colin said she's versatile, five or six, and she's getting sharper with her runs. She's in all the early closers, all the fancy races, and we'll be campaigning her now in group races. It's great to train for these people, the pedigrees are second to none. We'll get serious now with the early closers she's in and take it from there.”