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Patrick Mullins claims long-awaited victory in Galway amateur highlight


Patrick Mullins celebrates after winning the Connacht Hotel Handicap on Echoes In Rain during day one of the Galway Races

Patrick Mullins celebrates after winning the Connacht Hotel Handicap on Echoes In Rain during day one of the Galway Races

Patrick Mullins celebrates after winning the Connacht Hotel Handicap on Echoes In Rain during day one of the Galway Races

IT has been like a stone in his shoe since he joined the weighing room as a teenager, but Patrick Mullins finally got his hands on the prestigious Connacht Hotel Handicap when making it 16th-time lucky aboard Echoes In Rain (11/4 favourite) as the Galway Races kicked off last night.

Mullins has amassed an extraordinary CV in the saddle, but the leading amateur riders' handicap had eluded him until this point and it warranted a flying dismount in front of 15,179 punters as he steered the classy six-year-old mare to victory for his father Willie.

The 14-time champion amateur rider travelled like a winner on the a Grade One-winning juvenile hurdler, but he was made to work for it up the home straight before punching the air in delight with stablemate Maze Runner (16/1) a length-and-a-half back in second.

"It was a long last furlong, but a great sense of relief getting over the line. One out of 16 is probably time to be getting it right," Mullins chuckled after taking the 'amateur derby' and emulating his father, who won it on Pargan in 1985.

"Every year I come here with a fancied ride and it would have been a pity not to win it. It's the most valuable amateur race you can ride in. It's on RTÉ, all the papers cover it, there's a big crowd so it's definitely nice to put your name on the roll of honour."

As for where it ranks among multiple Grade One successes, the younger Mullins insisted that it was "right up there" and provided him with "as much pleasure as any other winner", but the next mission is already clearly in his sights.

"There's others to get at," Mullins mused after ticking an important box off his bucket list. "The Foxhunters' at Aintree and the Kim Muir at Cheltenham are two more on the list so more to do."

For Willie Mullins, he "wasn't sure which horse to shout for as my wife (Jackie) owns the second!" while English Grand National-winning trainer Emmet Mullins also got in on the family act when taking the closing Monami Construction Bumper.

Galway native Derek O'Connor was seen to good effect at his local track when scoring on This Songisforyou (11/4) by a neck as he repelled the challenge of the Jody Towend-ridden The Twelve Pins (9/2), trained by his uncle Willie.

The rest of the day belonged to Jessica Harrington and Shane Foley with the pair combining for a 123/1 treble spearheaded by the upset victory of Pivotal Trigger (2/1) in the Claregalwayhotel.ie Irish EBF Maiden.

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The Dermot Weld-trained Tiverton (8/11 favourite) was all the rage beforehand, but Foley delivered an inspired front-running ride to fend him off by a length-and-a-half before leaving it very late to take the Eventus Handicap on Irish Lullaby (13/2) by a head in a three-way finish.

Dairerin (9/2), partly owned by Cork's 1999 All-Ireland SHC-winning captain Mark Landers, also took the Claytonhotelgalway.ie Handicap for the red-hot Harrington/Foley partnership as their scorching July continued after Irish Classic success with Magical Lagoon.

There was a massive shock in the opening Galmont.com & Galwaybayhotel.com Novice Hurdle when 1/2 favourite HMS Seahorse, which had been mooted as a Galway Hurdle contender before the week started, could only muster third.

Gordon Elliott's second-string Royal Eagle (18/1) swooped up the home straight to score by three lengths under Jordan Gainford and the Meath trainer is confident that "she will win on the flat" in the near future while the Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel in September is also on her radar.

It was for days like this that Denis Hogan made his retirement U-turn having stepped away from the saddle following success at Ballybrit two years ago and he soaked up every bit of a narrow victory aboard Darkened (12/1) in the Easyfix Handicap Hurdle.

After losing his stick in the finish, the Tipperary trainer/jockey had just a nose to spare in a ding-dong battle with Tom Gibney's Listentillitellyea (10/1) and Darkened could run again on the Flat on Thursday if the six-year-old gets in.

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