Monday 18 December 2017

It's Ruby and Willie on the double in Galway again

Valyssa Monterg ridden by Ruby Walsh go on to win the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle during day six of the Galway Festival at Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit
Valyssa Monterg ridden by Ruby Walsh go on to win the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle during day six of the Galway Festival at Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit

Valyssa Monterg and Argentino came off the reserves' bench to give Willie Mullins a one-two in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Galway.

Argentino led for much of the way and appeared to have seen off his challengers jumping the last but Ruby Walsh, who switched from stablemate Wood Breizh when that one was pulled out, was just getting Valyssa Monterg into top gear.

The 8-1 chance, who was making her handicap debut, swooped down the outside and such was the power in her finish, she had established a two-and-three-quarter-length advantage by the time she crossed the line.

Valyssa Monterg was Mullins' seventh winner of the week, and the champion trainer said: "It was a nice surprise. I was afraid the ground may be too soft but with Ruby coming wide, maybe he found nicer ground.

"Ruby felt she was far happier when he got out of the bunch. When she was on the inside he felt she wasn't racing.

"I was also delighted with Argentino. It was a chance spare ride for Mikey Fogarty and I never saw him jump as well.

"Both of them will improve and we'll look to the next festival, whether that's at Killarney or Listowel.

"Both will also appreciate a longer trip. We could try Valyssa Monterg on the Flat at some stage.

"It's been a fantastic week and way beyond what I had hoped. I was just hoping I might get a winner or two."

The betting suggested the Ladbrokes Mobile Maiden Hurdle was a match and so it proved, with even-money favourite Tigris River inflicting a second defeat of the week on Zafayan.

Dermot Weld's Chester Cup third Zafayan, who chased home the exciting Bachasson on the opening day of the meeting, went to the front two out, but even-money favourite Tigris River was in his slipstream.

They jumped the last in unison but the market leader had more in the tank and surged clear under Barry Geraghty to triumph by nine lengths.

Winning trainer Aidan O'Brien was represented by his son Joseph, who said: "It's nice to get a win with him and we'll see where we go now. His jumping needs to improve but hopefully he'll come on a bit and the experience will help.

"He's versatile ground-wise as long as it isn't bottomless. He's a grand horse, has a good attitude and I'd say there are plenty of good days in him."

The Ballydoyle trainer followed up when Landofhopeandglory (11-8) showed resolution which belied his inexperience in the "This Is The Ladbrokes Life" EBF Maiden.

The High Chaparral newcomer fought tooth and nail with Weld's 6-5 favourite Kitten Loves Roses and once he saw off that challenge, had enough in reserve to repel the late thrust of Alaskan Son by a neck.

"He's a lovely big horse and was quite green," said O'Brien jnr, who did the steering.

"I was conscious of getting there a bit too soon and wanted to wait as long as I could. When he got there he looked around. I nearly won on the bridle.

"I really like him. He's a huge big imposing horse and to go around this track first time and win is not easily done.

"I think he has a bright future. He could go back to seven (furlongs) or stay at a mile. He's a very big horse and I'd imagine whatever he does this year is a bonus."

Weld did manage to register his fourth success of the week when First Figaro justified 10-11 favouritism in the Ladbrokes "Your Sport Your Way" INH Flat Race.

Waipu Cove (7-2) laughed at his rivals in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nursery Handicap.

Ger Lyons' youngster showed some improvement on his third start in maiden company but took a massive step forward on his first crack at a handicap.

Leigh Roche was merely a passenger as he sauntered to the front inside the final quarter-mile and didn't break sweat to cruise past the post three and three-quarter lengths clear of Fit For Function, despite being eased down.

"You never expect them to win like that. He was very impressive," said assistant trainer Shane Lyons.

"Without insulting anybody, it might not have been the greatest race this week. I'm sure the handicapper will react but we've always liked him and thought he'd win a maiden so we'll take it from there."

Chillie Billie (16-1) defied top weight to claim the spoils in the Ladbrokes Red Day Handicap, while Ebadani (10-1) was another to lump a big weight to victory, this time in the Ladbrokes "The Believer" Handicap.

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