Martin on double at 220/1
Edeymi and Redera deliver to get Meath handler off to dream start
Tony Martin's status as a handicap trainer extraordinaire was revitalised as Edeymi clung on for glory under Steven Clements in a dramatic finish to the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders' Race on the opening night at Galway.
Redera also kept on gamely to grab third for Martin under Maxine O'Sullivan in the €70,000 contest, and the Summerhill handler completed a 220/1 brace when Dark Crusader prevailed in similarly frenetic fashion for Fran Berry an hour later.
Charles Byrnes' well-backed Domination (12/1 into 7/1) nearly foiled the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Edeymi in the showpiece event. Each of the eventual first three home had come through under patient rides from the rear of the field, and Clements switched his partner off the rail to take a decisive lead a furlong down.
However, Domination came wider still with a similar burst for Declan Queally. Both horses gave their all in a pulsating climax to the two-miler, but it was Edeymi that flashed by the post a head to the good.
Successful on its last start on the Flat on the all-weather at Dundalk in January, the Barathea five-year-old was an easy-to-back 16/1 shot here.
"I said beforehand that, with any bit of luck, I couldn't see either of them out of the first four, but it's brilliant to get one of them home in front," Martin beamed. "It's great, and this little horse deserves it. He has been unlucky – it's good to see him do himself justice."
Clements, a native of Scarva, Co Down, rode a Cheltenham Festival winner on Colin Tizzard's Oiseau De Nuit during a three-year spell in England. The 27-year-old, who started out with Martin, recently decided to give up an unequal battle with the scales, and swapped his pro licence for an amateur one on his return home in May.
"There is this and Cheltenham, what more could a fella want," he joked. "I probably went too soon on him but I was hoping he would battle if a horse came to me, and thank God he did."
Martin also won the race during his time as a jockey, recalling afterwards how he had scored on Coolcullen for Jim Bolger in 1987 at the expense of one of his employer Michael Cunningham's runners. It was a verdict that he got in the stewards' room after a rough race, something that didn't go down well with his boss of the day.
"Happy memories but it cost me my job at the time," he quipped. "I got a year in exile, but Michael and I are great friends these days."
Dermot Weld added to his Ballybrit legend with a short-priced double courtesy of Mustajeeb and Diplomat. Mustajeeb saw off fellow 11/8 joint favourite Friendship to give the Rosewell House maestro a 23rd win in the juvenile maiden for Pat Smullen.
"It wasn't the plan to make it but he settled nicely in front," Weld said of Mustajeeb. "He is a progressive, Group class colt – I thought he would win."
For the sixth time in 10 years, Weld set the tone for the week when Diplomat ran out a ready winner of the opening Galwaybayhotel.com Novice Hurdle.
Ruby Walsh rarely had a moment's worry as he brought the four-year-old, well backed into an SP of 9/10, through to lead two out, though, in scoring by a length, he didn't quite pull away from the eye-catching runner-up Sky Khan as he might have.
Weld suggested that Ronan Lambe's charge would take up his engagement tonight if he is happy with him this morning, and Colm Murphy is also considering turning Aladdins Cave out again for Friday's mile-and-half Flat feature after his cheekpiece-adorned nine-year-old ground down Admiral Hawke in the handicap hurdle.
Fit from the Flat, the 9/2 favourite was having its first start over flights since winning off a 7lb lower mark at Fairyhouse back in November.
"We have been a while waiting for this, because we thought he had a right chance off his hurdle mark," Murphy admitted after Barry Geraghty got the Treasure Hunters Syndicate-owned mount home by a couple of lengths. "Barry got a great tune out of him because he pulls himself up when he gets there too soon."
In the bumper, Wicklow Brave (7/2) lived up to its name for Willie and Patrick Mullins to foil Weld's gambled-on Marty's Magic, though he had to survive a stewards' inquiry before being called the winner.
Target Acquired justified morning money to frank his Friday win at Down Royal in the seven-furlong handicap. Backed from 7/1 into 9/2 before returning at 11/2, Andy Oliver's Chris Hayes-ridden gelding had a neck to spare over Hail Shower.