Sensational Bob Lingo victory helps Walsh to finally break his duck in showpiece
Mark Walsh finally enjoyed the bit of luck that had deserted him in previous renewals to land a sensational Galway Plate victory on Bob Lingo at a rain-drenched Ballybrit yesterday.
An easy-to-back 16/1 shot, the JP McManus-owned 10-year-old also provided Tom Mullins with his first triumph in the €120,400 Tote-sponsored showpiece.
However, it was an especially sweet career-high success for Kildare native Walsh, who has emerged as McManus' trusty deputy in Ireland when AP McCoy is unavailable.
Second to Ballyholland on the champion owner's Knock On The Head in 2009, he was cruelly denied victory here on Finger Onthe Pulse in 2010 when McCoy pulled rank after his intended mount was a late withdrawal. Then, when Walsh set sail for home out of the dip on Wise Old Owl last year, his day in the sun seemed assured, only for Blazing Tempo to swoop past his tiring partner 100 yards from the line.
In 2012, though, Walsh was not to be denied glory. Unsurprisingly, McCoy had opted for Wise Old Owl -- which failed to replicate last year's performance on the testing going -- and this time it was Walsh who played fox to Paul Townend's hare on Casey Top.
Townend had led or contested the lead throughout with the Nina Carberry-ridden Cross Appeal. Cross Appeal was the first to wilt turning in, and Walsh coolly slotted between the two to initiate a hugely convincing five-length triumph on Bob Lingo.
"That makes up for the last few years," the successful jockey beamed afterwards. "I was killing myself for going too soon last year and, when I came by Paul, I was just hoping he wouldn't come back at me, because he was the one who did me last year."
For the shrewd Mullins, who was emulating his late father Paddy and brothers Willie and Tony in getting his name on this roll of honour, it was another landmark win. Already this year, Alderwood had plundered the County Hurdle and Fairyhouse's Grade One Evening Herald Novice Hurdle for his Goresbridge stable.
Blackstairmountain kept on to snatch third from Cross Appeal for Mullins' brother Willie and Ruby Walsh, all of 12 lengths behind Casey Top. The well-backed favourite Out Now was a never-dangerous 11th.
The champion trainer had enjoyed more luck in the amateur riders' maiden, when his son Patrick's commitment to do 11st 1lb on Fatcatinthehat was latched onto by wily punters. That is lower than the towering champion amateur has done in recent times and, on its first start since November and sporting ear-plugs for a first time, Fatcatinthehat justified being backed from 11/4 into 2/1 favouritism to score readily.
For the second day in a row, David Splaine overcame a last-flight wobble en route to victory, the 9/2 favourite Novarov doing the honours for Kilkenny-based John O'Shea, this time in the three-mile handicap hurdle.
Michael O'Hare's Gold Ability (Robbie Colgan) had to survive a stewards' enquiry before being confirmed the winner of the maiden hurdle, after he and the head runner-up Too Scoops clashed on the run to the line, while a short-priced double on the day courtesy of Diplomat and Tandem saw Dermot Weld's tally for the week hit six.
In between, it was the turn of the Ballybrit supremo's second cousin Stuart Weld. The Aughrim-based handler combined with Fergal Lynch to land a last-gasp victory in the seven-furlong handicap via Gris Ladera.
On a day when the sun only showed its face once the racing concluded, attendance fell by a modest 6pc to 18,145. Bookmakers' take suffered a 23pc drop to €1,507,486, though the Tote aggregate was up 11pc to €930,473, thanks to co-mingling with the French pool.