Quick Jack too nimble
Martin charge sprints clear of field to collect Hurdle jackpot
Despite his returning champion Thomas Edison crashing out whilst upsides in front at the final flight in yesterday's Guinness Galway Hurdle, Tony Martin still retained the most valuable jumps race in the land with Quick Jack.
The handicap king had still to get off the mark for the week by the time the prestigious two-miler came around. Martin had three fancied runners in the €300,000 event and his luck changed in spectacular fashion.
With all of his characteristic panache, Denis O'Regan cruised confidently up the inside of Hidden Cyclone rounding the final bend aboard Quick Jack. By the time he got to the last flight, Barry Geraghty had joined him on last year's winner, Thomas Edison.
Geraghty had switched out to challenge on the other side of Hidden Cyclone and Thomas Edison approached the flight with definite momentum.
On touching down, though, Thomas Edison simply lost his footing and exited dramatically. O'Regan, who had won the Galway Plate 10 years earlier aboard Ansar, finally got into the drive position on Quick Jack.
He never had to pick up his whip and was waving to the crowd even before the crossing the line a couple of lengths clear. It was that easy, albeit it wouldn't have been had Quick Jack's stablemate stood up. Max Dynamite, heavily backed from 25/1 into 10/1, flew home from the rear to be second. Martin's Ted Veale took third ahead of Hidden Cyclone, and he hinted that his reserve Pyromaniac would have been thereabouts too if he had got a run.
"I was giving him a squeak too!" the famously shrewd Co Meath handler quipped after emulating Mick Winters, who also won successive Hurdles with different horses in 2012 (Rebel Fitz) and Missunited (2013).
"It was some feeling watching the two of them come to the last together. Unfortunately, Thomas Edison hit the deck but it's great one won. Quick Jack has been well all year but I don't run him much because he has had issues and he needs good ground. I knew he was as well as I have had him, though.
"His form speaks for itself - he is very consistent. Ted Veale ran a cracker too and who knows what would have happened if Thomas Edison hadn't fallen. We'll never know."
Quick Jack won Monday's amateur riders' feature at Ballybrit in 2014 and hasn't been out of the first three in 13 starts across two years. As such, he returned a popular 9/2 shot here.
Like Jonathan Burke who conquered the Plate 24 hours earlier, O'Regan, who is based in England, hails from Co Cork. A supreme stylist, the Youghal native has struck up a lucrative association with Quick Jack's owner John Breslin in recent times.
"This means the world to me," he admitted afterwards. "The Galway Hurdle is an iconic race that I have wanted to win since I won the Plate 10 years ago, and I am delighted to be able to do it for this owner and trainer. They have been very good to me. Quick Jack missed the second-last but he jumped the last great and flew home."
Geraghty, who will have to wait until at least 2016 to claim a win in either of the week's two features, was philosophical about his misfortune.
"My horse was going well but so was the winner, so you couldn't say what would have happened," he mused.
The favourite Diakali ran lifelessly. However, his and Max Dynamite's trainer Willie Mullins moved onto five wins for the week with a 15.5/1 double. Laviniad beat the Dermot Weld-trained favourite Tested on the line in the Corrib Listed Stakes, having been boxed in with a furlong to go.
When the gap opened on the inner, the 5/1 shot flew home under Declan McDonogh to shade it by a head in a thrilling finish.
"Laviniad is temperamental but she's fine once you just let her get on with it," Mullins said. "She is ridden out on her own at home and Declan had to canter her down to the start with his feet out of the irons, but that's just her. I didn't dream she'd win but she is getting stronger all the time."
Tested's defeat will have been doubly sore for Pat Smullen, as he is Laviniad's regular jockey. Mullins followed up when Prince D'Aubrelle (7/4) took the bumper under his son Patrick, while Jessica Harrington also bagged a 34/1 cross-code double to bring her tally for the week to three.
After her own Princess Aloof (6/1) took the mile handicap under Shane Foley, Sandymount Duke, which is owned by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, made all in the novices' hurdle.
Robbie Power's mount was conceding weight all round but kept going relentlessly to score for a fourth time in succession.
"I don't know how good he is because he keeps improving," Harrington said of the 4/1 shot. "He has come a long way - I nearly gave up on him last year."
Colin Bowe and Davy Russell took the beginners' chase with Shantou Flyer (11/4), while Henry de Bromhead and Jonathan Burke added to Wednesday's Plate heroics with Sizing Platinum (3/1) in the novices' chase. "Talk about a confident young man's ride, the way that he was throwing him at fences," De Bromhead enthused.
Later, Liam Cusack's Bog War clung on to land a little touch (9/2 into 5/2 favourite) under Leigh Roche. An attendance of 35,215 was up 3pc on 2014, with bookies' take up 2pc to €1.9m.