Cork jockey Paul Townend delivered at the Galway Races

'Coming home from here last year we said to ourselves we’d make this the plan again.'
Cork jockey Paul Townend delivered at the Galway Races

Paul Townend celebrates winning with Royal Rendezvous. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

A BRILLIANT ride from Paul Townend ensured Royal Rendezvous landed the Galway Plate for Willie Mullins which was the highlight of seven-day summer festival.

The Lisgoold rider will get great satisfaction from this as the horse was runner-up in the race last year.

The best way to win around this unique track is from the front and Townend took this contest with a bold front-running ride.

Winning Trainer Willie Mullins 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.

Picture: Healy Racing.
Picture: Healy Racing.

“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.”

Jockey Finny Maguire won the prestigious Connacht Hotel Handicap for the second year running ensuring Dermot Weld continued his brilliant record at Galway.

Maguire, successful in last year’s renewal on Princess Zoe, was hard at work in third place with two furlongs to race, as Coltor had a few lengths to make up on the pacesetters.

But this horse is very tough and the north Cork rider cajoled his mount who found plenty for pressure though and after being switched off the rail a furlong out, wore down Foveros close home to score by three quarters of a length under a jubilant Maguire who is the son of Adrian who was one of the greats of all time while his mother Sabrina is part of the famous Winters family from Kanturk.

It was Weld’s first win in the race since Midnight Music in 2012 prior to which he had won it three times in a row between 2007 and 2009.

This was his eighth win in the race as a trainer who is known as the ‘King of Ballybrit”.

Weld said: “I thought he’d run very well last time out at the Curragh (on Guineas weekend) but by the time the last race came, the ground was gone very heavy and testing and that’s not for him. It was beautiful ground today, on the slow side of good.

“Finny was with me for a couple of years, is a very talented guy and has been in France riding successfully for the past six weeks.

“He came back especially to ride today and this is the first horse owned by Mischa Bucher, son of Eva Haefner of Moyglare Stud.

“I thought coming down in the car that a two-mile handicap at York in the middle of August would be a plan for him.

“York is now the immediate target.

“He’ll go jumping at Leopardstown at Christmas time, he never wants the ground too heavy, hence the reason.

“It’s a lovely race to win, it has been a very lucky race for me as a trainer and I won it four times as an amateur jockey, starting as a 15-year-old.”

WINNING WITH FLAIR

Over at Goodwood Alcohol Free saw off Poetic Flare and beat the colts to provide Oisin Murphy with a famous victory in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.

 Alcohol Free and Oisin Murphy after winning The Qatar Sussex Stakes Group 1. Picture: Healy Racing
Alcohol Free and Oisin Murphy after winning The Qatar Sussex Stakes Group 1. Picture: Healy Racing

The winner was successful in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, the Andrew Balding-trained filly attempted to make all in the Falmouth at Newmarket last time out but had to give best close home to Snow Lantern, who took her on again while the brilliant Palace Pier missed out due to a minor setback.

This was a very tactical race and Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare pulled very hard early on and ground that was certainly softer than connections would have liked.

Champion jockey Oisin Murphy was determined to delay his challenge on this occasion and made sure he played his hand late.

After a slow early pace Century Dream injected some speed into it a long way from home and caught a few rivals on the back foot.

Kevin Manning set off in pursuit on the 11/8 favourite Poetic Flare and on entering the final furlong hit the front — but Jim Bolger’s 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes hero was soon to face a bigger challenge, as Alcohol Free (7/2) quickened impressively and went on to win by a length and three-quarters.

Snow Lantern, who could have run in the Nassau Stakes over 10 furlongs, made up plenty of late ground to claim third under a typical Jamie Spencer ride.

Plenty of these will reappear at York in the Juddmonte International which will be another race to saviour.

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