Saturday 17 March 2018

Russell and Martin (96) get big prizes at a wet Ballybrit


Davy Russell. Photo: Sportsfile
Davy Russell. Photo: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Age was no barrier to either Davy Russell or Bill Martin on day three of the Galway Festival.

Russell, at 38, rode his first Galway Plate winner as 6/1 Balko Des Flos comprehensively came good in the big one. And Martin, a County Kildare native aged 96, was part of the Michael O'Callaghan Racing Club, owner of maiden winner Perfect Soldier.

"Bill is the newest member of the club - he joined yesterday on the advice of his son. I'm hoarse after it," said trainer O'Callaghan. Martin has attended the Galway Races every year since 1929.

Big-race glory in the feature may have eluded Russell prior to yesterday, but trainer Henry de Bromhead was winning the €250,000 Galway Plate for the second time, with Shanahan's Turn having taken it two years ago.

Remarkably, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud has now won three of the last four editions of the Plate, and his brother Eddie was instrumental in Balko Des Flos taking this route. The winner denied Willie Mullins a third big-race winner in succession, with the gambled-on Shaneshill second under Ruby Walsh.

"He did it really well and hopefully he's an improving horse. You were certainly starting to think you had a right chance bar a fall or something nasty. Davy was brilliant on him, but everything went our way today," said De Bromhead. "Eddie said to go here after his run at Punchestown the last day. It's amazing."

Russell added: "His jumping was great and very economical. He got there easy enough and winged the last two. I thought I got there way too soon, but you can't give away an advantage like that. I had to get stuck into him on the run-in, but he was very brave up against that hill."

The crowd of 17,322 was down on last year's figure, on a day of mixed weather in Galway. Today's Hurdle is likely to see the Mullins-trained Max Dynamite go off favourite under Walsh.

Irish Independent

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