Road to Riches claims glory in the Galway Plate
Road To Riches took the path to glory under talented 7lb-claimer Shane Shortall in an eventful renewal of thetote.com Galway Plate at the Ballybrit track.
There were several casualties in the valuable handicap chase, but Shortall had his mount in the best place, up with the lead throughout the two-and-three-quarter-mile feature.
Lord Ben kept Road To Riches (14-1) company for most of the race, but lost his pitch at the business end as the Noel Meade-trained seven-year-old, owned by Gigginstown House Stud, pulled away in the closing stages.
Burn And Turn (16-1) made solid late progress to take second place 11 lengths behind the emphatic winner with Balnaslow (9-1), also owned by Gigginstown, third. Spring Heeled (10-1) was fourth.
It was a chance ride for Shortall, who picked up the mount after Ger Fox broke his collarbone in a fall at Wexford on Friday.
Among the horses not to complete the course were Alderwood, Kid Cassidy, Vulcanite and Terminal.
Meade said: "Being by Gamut, and Gamut is by Spectrum, most of them want good ground. Probably that's the key to him and he does want to come into a race fresh. He jumped brilliant.
"That was the plan since Punchestown. He went a fair gallop but he was always comfortable. He jumped so well he gave himself a chance, and every fence was a help to him.
"I think that was Shane's first ride for me. Ger (Fox) would have been riding him put for breaking his collarbone, but that's racing. We bought him off Martin Cullinane who only trains about six miles from here.
"That's the only one of the big races (at Galway) that I haven't won. I've been second in it I think three or four times. I'm absolutely thrilled as the Plate is something you want to win.
"I'm sure the handicapper is not going to be too nice to him after that, he won so easy. I'm sure he's a Graded horse, there is no doubt about that. His handicapping days might be over after that. Good ground is essential.
"The strangest thing comes into your mind. Willie (Mullins) was behind me watching the race, and he was winning so easy I said to him " I wonder did I put the lead bag on him at all!"
Shortall, who was completing a double having earlier won on Greatness, said: "That was brilliant, unbelievable!
"I got a dream spin off him the whole way around - after the third fence, I never saw another horse!
"He had a little fill taking the bend and when he got his breather I kicked on again. Climbing the hill after jumping the last, I was waiting for something to come but it never did and he galloped all the way to the line for me.
"He's as genuine as you could meet, he was brilliant. There was nothing coming to edge him on but he still galloped all the way to the line for me.
"I rode an E18,000 handicap winner two weeks ago and I thought that was brilliant, but to win the Galway Plate is the stuff of dreams.
"I wasn't getting out of bed this morning expecting to ride a double. It might never happen again so I'll make the most of it."
Road To Riches was given a 20-1 quote by RaceBets for the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival