Wednesday 18 September 2019

Mullins family win big at Ballybrit

Trainer Matthew Smith and jockey Billy Lee with One Cool Poet after the horse completed his third win of the week at Galway on Saturday. Photo: PA
Trainer Matthew Smith and jockey Billy Lee with One Cool Poet after the horse completed his third win of the week at Galway on Saturday. Photo: PA
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

While the carnival atmosphere which continues to attract punters in their droves to Galway is unlikely to change, the action on the track has altered significantly in recent years, with Willie Mullins assuming complete control as 'King of Ballybrit'.

Ten winners for the week handed the Closutton maestro the leading trainer award once again, but none will have been any sweeter than the victory of Yorkhill (6/4 favourite) yesterday, nearly two-and-a-half years since last getting his head in front.

Mullins did not have a particularly big contingent at Galway this year but his select squad delivered in spades and helped champion jumps jockey Paul Townend to six winners as he was crowned leading National Hunt jockey.

It was a different story for Dermot Weld, however, as the man who Mullins assumed the mantle as the punters' favourite in Ballybrit from could only muster one winner over the 52 races, with Hasanabad landing the last on Friday to little fanfare.

What Mullins was doing over obstacles, Aidan O'Brien was executing on the flat, with the Ballydoyle supremo firing in six winners from a small string, with promising pair Emperor Of The Sun and Petite Mustique going into everyone's notebooks.

His son Donnacha was in the saddle for that sextet and added another two for his older brother Joseph, including yesterday through Linger (7/2), which was landing his second win of the week and helped him claim the leading Flat jockey award.

The major prizes of the week went the way of Gordon Elliott and jockey Luke Dempsey, with Borice claiming the Galway Plate, while Robbie Power pounced late aboard Tony Martin's Tudor City to take the Galway Hurdle, both worth a whopping €300,000.

Total attendance over the week for the 150th edition of the Galway Races was 129,118, down 3,573 on last year, while bookmaker turnover increased for the first time in over a decade, with a total of €6,801,009 bet in the ring, up €460,479 on last year.

However, Tote turnover took a sharp decline over the seven days as it plummeted to €4,230,422 from €5,298,536 in 2018, a rare negative on another crazy week in Ballybrit.

STAR OF THE WEEK

Jody Townend has had a horrible time of it, having broken her T12 vertebrae and had complications with the six screws and two rods that were put in her back, but she had her day in the sun when Great White Shark landed Monday's feature.

Feat of the week

Winning once is difficult, a second time is rare, but three times in the same week is truly extraordinary. That was the accomplishment of Matthew Smith's One Cool Poet, which landed a hat-trick of flat handicaps - all in the hands of Billy Lee - to cement his place in Galway folklore.

Quote of the week

Patrick Mullins' description of Yorkhill before running in the Galway Plate deserves to be highlighted: "Our one time Gold Cup hope now appears dumbfounded by the thought of winning, like a strippogram who has turned up at the wrong party."

The nine-year-old finally arrived at the right party yesterday!

Ride of the week

Ruth Dudfield's ride aboard Rocket Lad (9/4) to take the final race of the week was perfectly judged from the front to take the sting out of the opposition and land a third winner of the week for Emmet Mullins.

Gamble of the week

Gavin Cromwell's Ilikedwayurthinkin made a mockery of the handicapper as a well-backed 2/1 favourite on Wednesday, before Darragh O'Keeffe followed up again yesterday on the 5/6 hotpot.

Irish Independent

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