Friday 20 April 2018

Unconfined joy for Flynn and Doyle after shock Hurdle triumph

Jockey Tom Doyle celebrates aboard Moon Dice after winning the Galway Hurdle at Ballybrit yesterday
Jockey Tom Doyle celebrates aboard Moon Dice after winning the Galway Hurdle at Ballybrit yesterday
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Scenes of unbridled mayhem descended on the winner's enclosure at Ballybrit yesterday as the Three Friers Syndicate and its extended entourage welcomed back Moon Dice, the decisive 20/1 winner of the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

The triumph was a first major success for rookie Co Longford trainer Paul Flynn, who teamed up here with his former weighing room colleague Tom Doyle for a famous four-and-a-half-length victory.

It was another landmark achievement for the successful rider who, like the raucous syndicate, hails from Co Kilkenny and who won the Punchestown Gold Cup on the equally long-priced Follow The Plan in May.

Having declared Moon Dice the best horse that he had ever trained when it won its maiden hurdle at Limerick 12 months previously, it was a day of vindication for Flynn.

He has made a name for himself in his new vocation since moving back from England in 2006, often plundering his old cross-channel stomping grounds with rare precision.

An unassuming and colourful character, he was typically honest in an emotional post-race interview. "It's great," he said, struggling to hold back the tears.

"I thought he'd have a chance, but I didn't think he'd win like that. I ran him too much last year, but we've trained him better this year. He needs to be fresh."

Having initially relayed a lack of pre-race confidence in Moon Dice because his horses had recently been running "crap", as he put it, Flynn then qualified that. "Well, they've probably been running as good as they are, and that's the unfortunate part! Put it this way, this fellow is a long way in front of anything else that I have."

The result provided a wonderful conclusion to a race that had been mired in controversy beforehand due to the The Real Article debacle. In the event, having travelled keenly around the outside, the 4/1 market leader could only keep on for fourth.

Fosters Cross, which had landed Monday's big amateur riders' contest, was a game second, having once again attempted to make all. For the second year in a row, Dirar filled the third spot, without ever really looking dangerous.

Doyle had contested the early pace with Fosters Cross, but ended up taking a tow off him until snatching the lead on landing over the final flight.

"It's the richest jumps race of the year," he said afterwards of the ¿156,600 prize, "so it's brilliant to win it. I rode with Paul in England, and it means a lot to win this for him. This is what you get up for every morning and work to try and achieve."

Dermot Weld stole the remainder of the show, equalling last year's record haul of 11 with an incredible four-timer.

As Pat Smullen rode his Anam Allta into the winner's circle after the seven-furlong handicap, one punter who had invested in the 6/5 favourite shouted: "Well done, Pat, you're some man!"

Seconds later, another offered the same assessment of Weld, and both proclamations were statements of fact.

Smullen's stewardship on Anam Allta was a joy to behold. On just her fourth start, the three-year-old filly looked ill at ease when asked to pick up turning in. Smullen, sensing her hesitancy, quickly put down his stick despite still having a length to make up, and Anam Allta responded in kind.

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