Sunday 25 February 2018

Plate first for De Bromhead as Shanahan's turns on style

Jonathan Burke celebrates after winning the Galway Plate on Shanahan's Turn
Jonathan Burke celebrates after winning the Galway Plate on Shanahan's Turn
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Shanahan's Turn bounced back to his exciting best to run his rivals ragged en route to a superlative Galway Plate triumph under teenage riding sensation Jonathan Burke.

Still just 19 years of age, Burke has enjoyed a prolific year since being appointed retained rider to Alan and Ann Potts in August 2014 when a mere five-pound claimer. While the promotion seemed slightly premature at the time, few ever doubted his credentials.

Over the past 12 months, though, it is an election that has looked increasingly inspired with every passing day. In yesterday's prestigious handicap, Burke instinctively reacted to the sane early gallop by sitting closer than planned, just behind the pace-setting Baily Green.

As they headed into the Ballybrit countryside for the final time with five fences to jump, he let the seven-year-old Shanahan's Turn stride on. From there, the pair never had a moment's worry. After touching down two-out, his most dangerous looking rival Rule The World crumpled and fell under Davy Russell, who suggested that his mount may have innocuously clipped the leader's heels.

That was Shanahan's Turn closest pursuer out of the race. The easy-to-back 16/1 shot skipped over the last and gradually pulled five-and-a-half lengths clear of The Paparrazi Kid, which had also raced bang on the pace.

It was a first Plate success for trainer Henry de Bromhead who was also responsible for the third in the €220,000 handicap, with Sadler's Risk keeping on for third on the decent ground ahead of the veteran Alderwood.

"That's brilliant," the beaming Co Waterford handler admitted of the victory. "The hope was that he would come back to his form from last autumn, and, if he did, he looked in off a good mark. The prep run was pretty disappointing in Killarney but, funny enough, the one person who wasn't disappointed was the man who rode him, Barry Geraghty. I've always felt he was a proper graded horse, but when we hit soft ground in the winter I made a couple of mistakes with him.

"He might go for the Gowran Park Grade Two that Sizing Europe won the past few years, and I hope he might develop into a Grade One horse yet.

"This is such an amazing race," De Bromhead added, "so it's tremendous for Ann and Alan because they have been amazing supporters of ours over the years. Ann is in hospital at the moment so this will be a real tonic for her."

While De Bromhead was happy to "set the record straight" after his father Harry's Bishops Hall was thwarted by Life Of A Lord in the 1996 Plate, Burke came at it from a starkly contrasting angle.

"This is massive," he gushed. "It brings back fond memories of my father Liam winning the Plate with Sir Frederick in 2007.

"Galway has been a great place for me, so to win a Plate at 19 is phenomenal. Shanahan's Turn always looked like a good horse but he let us down in the winter. We've seen that you need a horse that might be good enough to progress to Grade One level to win this, so hopefully he can, too."

Shanpallas and Alelchi Inois were fifth and sixth, while fallers Foildubh and Make A Track sadly suffered fatal injuries. The Alelchi Inois team of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh had earlier maintained their 100pc record with favourites in the festival's opening races when Thomas Hobson (11/10) drew clear of Stuccodor.

All of 16 years after winning a bumper here on Frances Crowley's Whatchowillie, Co Kilkenny-based Garrett Power enjoyed a first Galway success as a trainer when Lily The Lioness ran out a brave winner of the mares' hurdle for Mark Enright. "She has a heart like a lion, as her name suggests," Power said of the 8/1 shot.

Dermot Weld, who was celebrating his 67th birthday, kept tabs on Mullins by also saddling his third winner of the week when Time To Inspire impressed in the amateur riders' maiden. As had been the case with Whitey O'Gwaun a year earlier, 17-year-old Finny Maguire did the steering on the 5/4 favourite.

"He did it very well," Weld said of his Galileo half-brother to Forgotten Rules. "He should progress into a nice horse."

Connor King excelled for a second time in two days when lifting Denis Hogan's Bribe The Bouncer (16/1) home by a short-head in the mile handicap.

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