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Aramon just the one for Mullins

Champion Hurdle is next on the agenda while Denis Hogan signs off a winner as he turns his focus to training career

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Patrick Mullins shows his delight after victory aboard Aramon in Galway. Photo: Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins shows his delight after victory aboard Aramon in Galway. Photo: Sportsfile

Patrick Mullins shows his delight after victory aboard Aramon in Galway. Photo: Sportsfile

There are only a limited number of opportunities for Patrick Mullins to test himself against professionals each season, but the 12-time champion amateur showed his class in the saddle yet again to land his second Galway Hurdle aboard Aramon (7/1).

Mullins always had the classy seven-year-old towards the head of affairs before delivering a race-winning kick up the home straight to comfortably hold off Des McDonogh's Hearts Are Trumps (40/1) by two and a quarter lengths and claim the €200,000 prize.

Having ridden yet another big-race winner for his father Willie, the 30-year-old is astounded by the honours amassed during his career - and still bemoaning the absence of Galway's big amateur prize from his CV - while he has one of his dad's achievements firmly in his sights.

Classy

"You only have 21 rides against the pros, so it's great to be able to make them count. It's great to be able to prove yourself. Because of my weight I'm riding top-weights but that means they're classy horses," the younger Mullins said after a flying dismount.

"I'm very lucky to be in the position that I'm in with my father training the horses. As you get older you appreciate them more but he (Willie) rode a winner in Cheltenham at 40, so I suppose I'll have to keep going until 41 anyway.

"I never thought I would ride in this race because of my weight let along win it. I still have not won the race on Monday night (Connacht Hotel Handicap for Amateur Riders) so I have to pinch myself to get that off the list."

As for Aramon, a Grade One-winning hurdler two seasons ago, Mullins has confidence that he can replicate the path taken by 2018 Galway Hurdle winner Sharjah and turn into a genuine Champion Hurdle contender, for which he is a 25/1 shot, next season.

"It looks like he is getting his mojo back and you'd like to think that he could improve like Sharjah did into a Champion Hurdle horse. He'll have to be (rated) 160 or close to that after this and that's very close to the top hurdlers in England and Ireland at the minute so he could be a Champion Hurdle horse in March," he said.

Mullins' star continues to soar but Denis Hogan is heading in the other direction having brought the curtain down on his riding career in sensational style when Bua Boy (5/1 favourite) landed a handicap hurdle gamble to deny stablemate Alabaster (6/1).

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Hogan has been mixing life as a trainer/jockey with remarkable success but the Tipperary native will switch total focus to his Cloughjordan yard where star sprinters like Sceptical and Make A Challenge have put his name on the map in recent years.

After riding nearly 150 winners, the 33-year-old cut an emotional figure, insisting: "it's a good way to go" as the demands of a yard housing 80 horses became too much to divide his time anymore. "It's a good way to go. We're very busy, it's hard to do both nowadays. I really enjoyed it, it's hard to let go," Hogan said.

"There's days that I can't think of what's going on because there's so much happening. I wouldn't even know I'm riding sometimes it's getting so hard and so busy.

"The only reason I could do this so long is because I've got such a fantastic team at home. I just thought if there was ever a time to go and leave the job then it was here in Galway, this was probably my Cheltenham.

"I'm happy to concentrate on the training now. We've a lot of good flat horses and Mick Halford will be happy, he's been telling me for years 'give up that riding crack'. It was my decision and I'm looking forward to the future."

Jon Snow (2/7 favourite) made it a double for champion trainer Mullins when landing a novice hurdle under Paul Townend while it was a family affair as the Closutton maestro's younger brother Tom was also on the mark with Court Maid (3/1) landing a beginners chase in impressive fashion.

Steering

Tom's son David did the steering but the jockey's day quickly took a turn for the worse as a fall on Emmet Mullins' Russian Diamond (11/8 favourite) in the Grade Three Rockshore Novice Chase saw him stood down with a dead leg.

That prize went the way of Jessica Harrington's Polished Steel (9/2) with Robbie Power's mount making it two for two over the larger obstacles in facile fashion despite the soft going causing headaches for connections.

"There was a long conversation had in the yard this morning about whether to run him on the ground or not, but it didn't look the strongest of Grade Three contests and it looked a good opportunity for him," Power said.

Davy Russell stood down due to a back injury after the first while the name Cody brought more success to Kilkenny as Dunnamaggin trainer Ray struck a blow for the Cats in the opening novice hurdle with Guinevere (15/2) upsetting the market leaders under brilliant 7lb claimer Simon Torrens. 

"The long-term plan all along was the Lartigue Hurdle in Listowel, which we won last year with Razoul, and she'll probably end up there. She goes on any ground," a delighted Cody said.

Ronan McNally's likeable 11-year-old The Trigger (4/1) notched his fourth success in a month when taking the penultimate handicap hurdle while Joseph O'Brien concluded the action by landing the bumper with Slige Dala (11/4) scoring under Tom Hamilton.


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