Saturday 1 October 2016

Patrick Mullins: St Stephens Green set to make more family history

Patrick Mullins

Published 29/07/2016 | 02:30

Bel Sas, with Ruby Walsh up, clears the last on their way to winning the Guinness Novice Hurdle. Photo: Sportsfile
Bel Sas, with Ruby Walsh up, clears the last on their way to winning the Guinness Novice Hurdle. Photo: Sportsfile

Twenty years is a long time in racing and after knocking on the door with our trio in the Plate, there were joyous scenes as Clondaw Warrior collected our second Galway Hurdle in a thrilling finale.

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You could see what it meant to Ruby afterwards and for a jockey who has won almost every major prize in jumps racing that's saying something. He's the greatest of all-time in my view and the parade ring exploded afterwards. Galway is special like that.

It was a famous Royal Ascot and Galway double for Clondaw, who justified the support of favourite backers and followers of this column but we were nearly touched off by Hidden Cyclone, another horse I fancied.

Surreal

It was a tough day for punters but I hope you were on our 110/1 treble of Clondaw, Bel Sas and Tara Dylan. Having only had two winners for the week going into yesterday's racing, dad doubled his tally and it must have been a surreal moment for 'Shark' Hanlon.

He was robbed of the €177,000 winner's prize by a horse that he formerly trained, but he took it like a man and Clondaw's win certainly made up for Wicklow Brave's disappointing run in the Goodwood Cup.

I say disappointing even though he finished a fourth to Big Orange which was an improvement on his last run but we were downbeat because we were hoping to be in the first two to secure a place in the Melbourne Cup and he'll probably go for the Irish St Leger now.

I'm hoping to be part of another famous success at Ballybrit this evening with St Stephens Green in the opening handicap hurdle. Dad runs Rupert Lamb, a horse with a lot of ability who can be a bit hit-and-miss, and off top-weight it'll be hard to get his head in front.

My cousin Emmet runs St Stephens Green and my other cousin Danny rides. Myself and Emmet bought him at the Land Rover sales as a three-year-old and Michael Mee took him off us and he went on to become Emmet's first winner as a trainer.

Read More: Ruby delivers glory for 'Waggs' on  Ladies Day

I think the ground will suit and off a mark of 119 he's probably well handicapped. His winter form is very good and the only worry is that it's his first handicap but there's only 12 in the race so it won't be like a big handicap and I'd be very keen on his chances.

The Mees are from Galway and Michael's mother Annette used to babysit me as a small boy when my parents were going racing, so it'd be nice to get a winner for them in their home town of Galway and I'll be watching at home intently.

I got a huge kick out of Black Hercules winning at Cheltenham this year; obviously myself and Emmet bought him too and it's a different buzz than riding a winner, a horse that you've bought, seen progress and improve. It's definitely something very special.

The Galway Blazers (6.15) is always very prestigious and subsequent Irish Grand National winner Rogue Angel won this race 12 months ago. I like the look of Jimmy Mangan's Kilcrea which won last time in Killarney.

Rachael Blackmore takes the mount on this one. Rachael lives in the house with me and is after having a great summer, she's seriously hard-working and is fantastic value for her 5lb claim.

She's a formidable rider and off 10st 8lbs Kilcrea has a great chance.

Read More: 'Queen' can defy penalty to score again at Galway

Hurdle hero Clondaw Warrior won the €100,000 Handicap last year but we've no runner today in another competitive renewal. Peter Fahey's horses are in great form and he'd another winner yesterday with Xsquared who ran up a bit of a sequence and I think Queen Alphabet can do something similar.

She's joint bottom weight and in tremendous form, she ticks all the boxes for me and is improving at a rate of knots. She has probably taken them by surprise a bit sneaking in at the bottom of the weights and has a live chance.

On that note, it was great to see that in the Plate the first five or six home were honestly campaigned during the last year, there was no messing around with them and that's good to see that you can win big handicaps without messing around.

Ivan Grozny is a very good horse, he won the Grade Two Hurdle in Tipperary the last day and won it easily, he's dropping back to a mile and a half in the Guinness Race (7.25) and that'll be no problem because he's a quick horse that should like the ground.

He was a little disappointing at Ascot but this is a drop in class and I'd be expecting him to collect.

Patrick's Picks

5.10: St Stephens Green

5.45: Epitaph

6.15: Kilcrea

6.50: Queen Alphabet

7.25: Ivan Grozny NAP

8.0: Smiling Emily

8.30: Triplicate

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