Sunday 18 March 2018

Light sparkles for punters

Peter Fahey’s Serefeli, with Billy Lee up (right), on the way edging out runner-up Usa (centre) and winning the Caulfield Industrial Handicap on Day 2 of the Galway Festival. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Peter Fahey’s Serefeli, with Billy Lee up (right), on the way edging out runner-up Usa (centre) and winning the Caulfield Industrial Handicap on Day 2 of the Galway Festival. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Johnny Ward

Willie Mullins, the champion Jumps trainer, showed the Flat fraternity how to do it yet again as, for the second evening running, he took the feature race at the Galway Festival.

It was also a memorable evening for young trainer Robbie McNamara. Forced into the profession after being paralysed by a fall, he has made a fine start, and struck with Cascavelle in the fourth race - part of a double for Billy Lee.

There was no doubt, though, who dominated the narrative once more. Having saddled three of the first four home in Monday's big race, Mullins' sole runner - Riven Light - routed his rivals in the Galway Mile, though it was a race so rough that some sour faces prevailed among connections of the placed horses afterwards.

Declan McDonogh, who rode the well-backed 7/2 favourite, had to wait for a crucial pocket in what - even by Galway standards - was an exceptionally rough race. Perhaps sensing it was then or never, he grabbed at a gap that was certain to result in the prominent Marshall Jennings getting a bump around a furlong out.

Riven Light soon burst clear and was no doubt the best horse in the race, but Marshall Jennings and Colm O'Donoghue were knocked to the left, eventually finishing unplaced, as Hibou came home in second.

"In my opinion, (the gaps) were there. The outside horses were pushing in a little bit and there was plenty of room for me to go into," said the triumphant rider, who was given a four-day ban from the stewards afterwards. He was deemed guilty of careless riding.

"Perhaps coming back to a mile was a little bit of a shock to the system but he was a very easy winner, he obviously has a lot of class. Typical Galway, it was a little bit messy and horses were getting tired."

A stewards' enquiry was called and the only possibility of the placings being altered was if McDonogh had been brought to book for dangerous riding. Mullins, who was in Goodwood, had dropped the horse back in trip after a hurdling campaign.

Riven Light was the Irish Independent selection for the big race, while Patrick Mullins also opted for Rich Ricci's runner in his exclusive column.

Barry Geraghty rode another post-injury winner when Housesofparliament (11/4) stamped his Flat class on the opener. The former Leger third was novicey jumping early on, but got his act together and Geraghty rode him with a confidence befitting one which stayed so well on the level.

Afterwards, the rider described the steed's performance as "workmanlike", while trainer Joseph O'Brien added: "It wasn't ideal the way the race worked out. He doesn't have to go any further yet but he should stay further. We'll try and find a winners' race next."

Noel Fehily, said Henry de Bromhead after the pair combined to snare the maiden chase with Three Wise Men, "did the exact opposite to what we had agreed prior to the race."

However, De Bromhead added after a spectacular jumping performance from the 7/2 chance: "Win, lose or draw, he did the right thing: the horse loved the way he was ridden."

The 9/1 chance Shekiba took the fillies' maiden for Joe Murphy, but the loudest cheer was for McNamara, who spoke with huge confidence pre-race about Cascavelle, which was comprehensively justified as the 9/1 chance won gamely.

He said: "I probably preferred riding winners - I was in more control. But I enjoy the daily life of a trainer more. The buzz of riding a winner is a bit better, but training winners is enjoyable."

Rider Billy Lee doubled up when Serefeli got room at a crucial stage to snare the penultimate contest, the 4/1 favourite getting Peter Fahey off the mark for the week.

The concluding event went to Knockmaole Boy and Tuam native Leigh Roche, the 6/1 chance getting Gordon Elliott his first winner of the Festival.

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