Saturday 17 February 2018

AP McCoy and Thomas Edison hand JP his first Hurdle

More Ballybrit delight for Martin as McCoy eases to facile showpiece triumph on thomas Edison

Tony McCoy drives Thomas Edison to victory in the Galway Hurdle
Tony McCoy drives Thomas Edison to victory in the Galway Hurdle
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

JP McMANUS' Galway Plate domination might have come to an abrupt end on Wednesday, but he received ample compensation yesterday when Thomas Edison finally fulfilled his promise with a barnstorming Guinness Galway Hurdle success under AP McCoy.

There aren't many marquee National Hunt events that the sport's greatest benefactor hasn't won, but the most valuable jumps race in the land was one of them until his heavily-backed 7/2 favourite cruised through between horses on the turn for home en route to a bloodless three-length victory.

It also constituted a debut Galway Hurdle triumph for the increasingly prolific Ballybrit specialist Tony Martin, who was saddling his third winner of the week. He had also taken the opening-night feature with the similarly fancied Quick Jack. McCoy and his seven-year-old partner plundered the €250,000 showpiece in facile style. In the process, they confined Martin's Co Meath neighbour Gordon Elliott, and jockey Davy Condon, to the runners-up berth for the third year in a row with Bayan.

Thomas Edison slammed Champagne Fever in a Leopardstown bumper in 2011, yet his maiden hurdle win at Bellewstown two years ago was his sole victory in 14 starts over flights prior to this and 12 months ago he floundered in the Hurdle behind yesterday's Goodwood heroine Missunited.

Two recent wins on the Flat, though, suggested that he had turned a corner. "It was worth the wait!" Martin said. "What can you say? It's a dream come true. Tony McCoy was excellent on him.

"He is a horse that can be very keen and he has taken a long time to learn his job. We never had him at the pitch we had him today before, but it helps when you have an owner with patience."

Asked if he ever lost faith in the horse, Martin's response was unequivocal. "Never."

McCoy, however, admitted he didn't share that faith. "In my heart of hearts I didn't fancy him, but, thankfully, the trainer knows better than the rest of us," said the incredible 19-time champion, who goes back to England today in search of the 16 wins needed for a fastest century before September 4.

"The wins on the Flat have given the horse some confidence, but to turn him out like that in the richest jump race in the country was some effort. It was a good time to find the winning habit."

As Missunited fought her way to a brave swansong victory at Goodwood amid raucous Ballybrit cheers from the 34,000 crowd, Johnny Murtagh was being interviewed after watching Dalkova secure his first Ballybrit win as a trainer.

"This is huge for me, but I think Michael Winters will give a better interview," he joked.

Dalkova had justified being backed from 10/1 into 13/2 courtesy of a canny front-running ride by Niall McCullagh in the Listed fillies' race. "It's hard work as winners don't come as often," said Murtagh, "but Niall had great faith in this filly."

Willie Mullins and Paul Townend plundered their third wins of the week when the odds-on Alelchi Inois completed its own hat-trick in ready style in the novices' chase, while Stephen Mahon and Denis O'Regan took the beginners' equivalent with locally-owned 12/1 shot Aranhill Chief. O'Regan was as polished as ever, but his fellow Youghal native Davy Russell briefly stole the show by performing a minor miracle to stay in the saddle after Vaxalco flung him into the air four fences out.

In the mile handicap, Mick Halford and Shane Foley got off the mark with Hasanour (9/1), which knuckled down gamely to consign Sretaw to the runner-up berth for a sixth time in a row and the second this week.

Desertmore Stream (3/1) flew home late to nab Icy Reply in the novices' hurdle for Philip Fenton and Brian O'Connell, while Ridestan improved on its second over hurdles here on Monday to readily land a touch (9/4 into 7/4 favourite) for Denis Hogan and Conor Hoban in the 12-furlong handicap.

"The lads that own him will knock some kick out of this," Hogan said. "They were celebrating on Monday night, so I'd hate to see what they'll do now!"

John 'Shark' Hanlon's Patrick Mullins-ridden 6/4 favourite Clondaw Farmer then nosed out 50/1 shot Blueprint Bob in a thrilling climax to the bumper. Mercifully, it was that kind of day for punters.

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