Mullins on double to take Galway crown from Weld
One of the longest running monopolies in Irish sport was brought to an end yesterday when Willie Mullins finally dethroned Dermot Weld as leading trainer at Galway - thereby ending the master of Rosewell House's 18-year reign.
Not since Aidan O'Brien in 1997 had Weld's name not been top of the roll of honour, but a score of 58 to 54 on the recently-introduced points-based system meant the laurels went the way of Mullins.
The champion jumps trainer combined with Ruby Walsh to enjoy a short-priced, final-day double, courtesy of victories for Alelchi Inois (4/7) and Devils Bride (13/8), and this ultimately propelled him to the title.
The Co Carlow maestro sent out 17 horses to contest 15 races and recorded nine winners, highlighted by the victory of Clondaw Warrior in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday.
For his part, Weld, who had openly admitted his team was not as strong as in previous years, managed six winners. Walsh was top National Hunt rider with seven winners and Pat Smullen best on the Flat with six.
Runner-up in Wednesday's Plate, Alelchi Inois turned in a dominant display to claim the AtTheRaces Chase. The eight-year-old had Clarcam to contend with as the headed for home but slicker leaps at the final two fences put the market leader in control and he coasted home for a facile success.
"The plan all along has been the Gran Premio Merano (in September), although he will get an entry in the Kerry National. Sometimes the ground can be too soft at Listowel," said Mullins. "He could be a National horse next year."
Just over a half-an-hour later, the same combination struck with Devils Bride which defied top weight in the Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase. Draycott Place made a bold bid for home and was still a few lengths clear at the last, but Walsh was biding his time on the market leader which picked up to score by eight lengths.
Weld did get on the scoresheet later when Smullen guided Tarzani to victory in the JPK Fencing Handicap.
Having finished a distant third to Derby-winning stable companion Harzand in a Cork maiden back in March, the Dutch Art gelding was a well-supported 15/8 favourite for his handicap debut.
Smullen kicked from the home bend and Tarazani, wearing a visor for the first time, was always doing enough to hold Ondamoura at bay by a length.
Weld's Mounira was installed evens favourite in the fillies' maiden to keep Weld's title hopes alive but Smullen's mount dropped away tamely as John Oxx got his first winner of the week as Nonetheless finished strongly under a packed-packed drive from Declan McDonogh.
It was the fifth winner of the week for the in-form McDonogh who produced his mount to perfection to score by a length and three-quarters from Remarkable Lady.
Feature event on the card was EBF 'Ahonoora' Handicap and English trainer Brian Ellison plundered it for the third year in succession as Dream Walker flew up the hill under Chris Hayes to grab the spoils.
Tribal Path came off the reserves' bench to give a bold sight out in front, but was collared by the Ger Lyons-trained Reckless Endeavour at the furlong marker.
The pack were closing, though, and Hayes got the splits at the right time aboard Dream Walker (7/1), which sprouted wings and pipped Reckless Endeavour by a neck. Tribal Path hung on for third, with Cailin Mor fourth, and the winner's stable companion Baraweez, which scooped this big prize for the past two seasons, also close up in fifth.
"They started racing from a fair way out and Chris used his head. He sat and then got all the breaks. He's a class jockey.
"This horse had a bad draw on Thursday, but when he's here we thought he might as well run. We let him out on Friday and he was bucking and kicking, and in great form.
"I thought Stipulate (7/2 favourite) had the best chance but he got no run on the rail, and Baraweez just got caught wide, he had a bad draw."
Rachael Blackmore displayed her talents when John 'Shark' Hanlon's Camlann made it third time lucky at this week's Festival in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
The five-year-old finished third over hurdles on Monday evening before occupying the same position on the Flat 48 hours later.
Sent off at 5/1 for his latest assignment, Camlann knuckled down well to get the better of Afatcat by three-quarters of a length, with 7/2 favourite Dollar And A Dream the same distance away in third.
Blackmore was brought swiftly back down to earth in the next race when she hit the deck following a dramatic conclusion to the three-mile handicap hurdle.
There were multiple fallers after a nasty incident at the second-last flight, while 11/8 favourite Sea Light was still bang in contention when tipping up at the last under Davy Russell, interfering with Oisin James leading to Blackmore being unseated.
Amidst all this carnage, the Garret Power-trained Garri Rua (14/1) avoided the trouble in the hands of Danny Mullins and galloped six lengths clear of runner-up Bye Bye O Bye.