Young rider gets Saltonstall home by a nostril to record back-to-back wins in premier Galway handicap
The old adage about 'horses for courses' rang true yet again at Galway last night when rising star of the weigh-room Gavin Ryan guided Saltonstall to back-to-back victories in the featured Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap.
However, it was only on the nod that the Ado McGuinness-trained inmate managed to edge out Jessica Harrington's gallant Njord with the judge taking plenty of time before calling Saltonstall (11/1) the winner after a desperate photo finish.
It was tense wait for all involved, but the verdict ultimately went to last year's gutsy winner, which finished with a tremendous burst in the last 100 yards having weaved through from last place under a fine ride from promising youngster Ryan - another product of the Jim Bolger jockeys academy which has produced a string of champions over the years.
As well as Njord, which lost out by a nose under Tom Madden, Harrington was also responsible for the third and fourth in Onlyhuman and Tauran Shaman.
After the verdict was announced, McGuinness enthused: "I can't believe that we've done it back to back and it's more of a surprise than last year. It was all so close - I was up in the top tier of the stand and didn't know (if he had won).
"The plan was to drop in and Gavin gave him a wonderful ride. It was serious stuff from him. I was worried his 5lb (claim) would be gone before this race came around, but he's a very, very good jockey and I'm thrilled to bits.
"We worked the horse last week and he worked badly, so we were wondering would we be running him at all.
"The other horse, Current Option (14th), worked all over him, but all the checks we did on him came back fine.
"He's had days at the beach since, and a full day in the field. He had a tendency to bleed so we have to be very careful with him."
The trainer added: "Bart O'Sullivan led him in last year, and he's passed away since, so he's definitely looking down on us today, and his son James is still involved."
Earlier, classy Champers Elysees - which looked like it was bound to race in America for new owners until a technicality arose - proved far too good for her rivals as she ran away with the Colm Quinn BMW Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes to continue the irresistible form of trainer Johnny Murtagh.
Murtagh's 15/8 favourite won a Curragh handicap on her seasonal bow in June, but she made an effortless transition to Listed level in this seven-furlong heat.
Inhale set out to make all, but Champers Elysees was tanking along in Ben Coen's hands, swiftly moving to the lead turning for home before galloping clear to win by seven lengths.
Champers Elysees was giving the red-hot Murtagh his eighth winner in the last seven days.
"In fairness to Danny Sheehy, he said she was flying, and he rides her in all of her work," said the Curragh handler. "I was very, very impressed and I have to say surprised. Hopefully she can step up, but if she stays the same she'll do me."
Out of luck in the feature, the Jessica Harrington team had better luck earlier with Rocket Science (3/1), which was another cosy winner of the seven-furlong maiden.
Ridden by Shane Foley, Rocket Science easily accounted for 7/4 favourite Teed Up by three lengths.
"She's one that might stay in training as a four-year-old," said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother. "There's not much of her, but she tries hard."
The Joseph O'Brien-trained Flying Scotsman (13/8 favourite) showed his toughness in winning his second race in the space of two days, getting home in a tight finish to the caulfieldindustrial.com Handicap.
Successful over an extended mile and a half on Monday night, the JP McManus-owned three-year-old bounced out of that none the worse to win over nearly half a mile less, sporting first-time cheekpieces and carrying a 6lb penalty.
Brendan Powell, assistant to the winning trainer, said of Wayne Lordan's mount: "He's in again at Leopardstown on Friday and we'll just have to see about that."
Jim Bolger's Meala put her previous experience to good use in the opening juvenile fillies maiden, easily justifying 11/4 joint favouritism under Kevin Manning.
The daughter of Epaulette had finished no worse than fourth in three previous outings and she travelled well throughout before kicking on at the top of the straight and cruising home by 11 lengths from Umneyaat.
"The boss is very happy," said Una Manning, wife of the winning rider and daughter of the victorious trainer. "She'll get a mile and next year will be her year."
Colin Keane got the perfect send-off for his trip to ride Siskin at Goodwood today when partnering the Philip Byrne-trained Out On A Friday to a deserved success in the first division of the extended mile handicap.
Installed 100/30 favourite, he went to the front after just a furlong and never saw another rival as he held off Darkened by three parts of a length.