Fate smiles on Harringtons as Modem answers late call
Kate Harrington lamented her late father Johnny's absence after a hard-fought success on Modem at Galway last night, but there was a sense that someone from on high might have played a hand in her career-high triumph.
If that's a bit of a spiritual stretch, then at the very least there was a hint of destiny about the 25-year-old's determined win in the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders' Handicap.
Harrington's esteemed mother Jessica had been resigned to Modem not making the cut for the prestigious €80,000 two-miler, so Kate had been booked to partner Kabjoy for the stable instead.
"I didn't think he'd get in because he was 13th on the ballot," the elated Kildare handler explained. "Then Kate rang before declaration time to say that he was getting in. I asked if she wanted to ride him and she said, 'yes, I want to ride him!'.
"Modem had come back from a break to win on the Flat at Killarney; he got put up 7lb and probably wouldn't have got in otherwise. He will go for the Hurdle now on Thursday - we'll try for the double.
"I always wanted to come here because this is a race I have always wanted to win. It's great how it has worked out."
The contrast with how the winning rider's day might have unfolded was stark, as Kabjoy unseated Mark Fahey coming out of the stalls.
"It's amazing, I can't believe it has actually happened," the 5lb claimer beamed. "I always dreamt that I would win this race. I wish my late father was here to see it - I don't think he'd believe I actually won it!"
There was a sting in the tail for Harrington, who was handed a 10-day whip ban by the stewards for not giving her mount time to respond.
She had positioned the Turlough Blessing-owned Modem handily all the way. A furlong out, she drove him to the front and her mount gamely repelled the persistent challenge of Awesome Star by a neck, with the heavily backed favourite Ted Veale just half-a-length further back.
All roads now lead back to Ballybrit on Thursday for a bold tilt at the €300,000 Guinness-sponsored showpiece. Spanner (1975), Try A Brandy (1988) and Athy Spirit (1990) are the only horses to have won both races in the same year before.
One DK Weld trained and rode Spanner to each of his three wins in the amateur riders' feature, and the Galway colossus departed with an opening night brace at combined odds of 7/1.
The Aga Khan's Harasava justified being backed from 11/4 into 9/4 favouritism under Pat Smullen in the 11-furlong handicap, after True Solitaire had found plenty for pressure to draw five lengths clear of The Moore Factor in the seven-furlong two-year-olds' maiden that the Rosewell House maestro was claiming for a 23rd time.
Weld hopes that the 6/4 second favourite can also go on to better things. "He put the race to bed very quickly once Pat got him racing," he said of Moyglare Stud's Oasis Dream colt. "There is a Group Three at Leopardstown on Irish Champion Stakes day that might suit him."
Henry De Bromhead's Beckwith Star (7/1) clung on by a head to make all under 5lb claimer Adam O'Neill for a second successive win the handicap hurdle, after Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh got the festival off to a winning start for favourite-backers with Bachasson.
A year after the subsequent Grade One victor McKinley took the novices' hurdle, this tidy Sligo maiden winner scooted up by 16 lengths in Un De Sceaux's colours.
"He's able to go and able to jump," Mullins said of the 5/4 shot. "He took no prisoners but that's the kind of confidence he was giving Ruby."