Mullins clan make it real family affair in Ballybrit
It was a mixed couple of weeks for JP McManus who saw his beloved Limerick hurlers exit the All-Ireland SHC at the semi-final stage in controversial circumstances, while his Adare Manor venue secured the Ryder Cup for 2026.
And there was more good news for McManus when his Ilikedwayurthinkin, trained by Gavin Cromwell, was a convincing winner of the second race of the day, the Tote Galway Races Handicap Hurdle.
Eight of the last ten winners of this race had won at double-figure prices but Cromwell's five-year-obliged in impressive form with almost seven lengths to spare over Colin Bowe's Sweet Home Chicago and Whatsyourstatus with the early challenge of Megalomaniac fading late on.
"He was good. The step up in trip obviously was a big help," Cromwell said. "He's had plenty of problems as a young horse and was very sore after Fairyhouse. The break did him good. He's in again on Sunday but I don't know if he'll run. I'll have to chat to the lads and see how he comes out of this."
McManus' horse was just the fifth SP favourite winner of the week in Ballybrit and there was no further relief for favourite backers in the opening race of the day, The Tote Supporting Irish Racing Since 1930 Maiden Hurdle.
Henry de Bromhead's Dancing On My Own, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, went off as favourite having run into fourth in a Grade One at Dublin Racing Festival.
Despite showing well in the early part of the race, the five-year-old never looked happy jumping and faded late on as Willie Mullins' Diamond Hill (5/2), which won on the Flat at the festival last year, held off the challenge of Dermot Weld's Days Without End by one-and-a-quarter lengths with Dancing On My Own coming in fourth.
"She's very green, very novicey and sometimes when you have had them over hurdles for six months to a year something clicks," Mullins said.
"Even still she was very green today and pulled very hard but I was amazed at her turn of foot from the last bend to the last hurdle."
The Mullins family tasted more success in the Mares Handicap Hurdle but this time it was the Tom Mullins-trained, David Mullins-ridden and Helen Mullins-owned Bercasa which emerged from the pack to win. The Casamento filly went off as a 10/1 shot in a very open field where five of the 20 runners had won last time out.
However, David Mullins picked his way through the field to beat home Noel Meade's Iamastartoo and top weight Like An Open Book.
There was more success for Willie Mullins in the Maiden with Buildmeupbuttercup. The runner-up in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting earlier this year looked every bit the class horse in the race and justified her 1/2 favourite SP, beating the progressive Run For Mary, which has now been first or second in four of her five runs this year.