Sport Horse Racing

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Rock Critic hits mark as Weld streak rolls on

Ashley Iveson

Dermot Weld's sensational week continued at Galway yesterday as Rock Critic's victory in the Ladbrokes 'Biggest Names Best Prices' Handicap proved the highlight of a treble and ensured the trainer ended the afternoon with 16 Festival winners.

The Ballybrit maestro saddled 11 winners at the meeting 12 months ago and that total looked sure to take some beating, but the remarkable Weld has surpassed it with ease.

Rock Critic, turned out quickly after winning here on Thursday, was sent off the 10/11 market leader to follow up under a penalty and just got the job done under Pat Smullen, holding on by a neck from Jamesie.

"It was a good performance and a power-packed ride from Pat, which probably won the day," said Weld. "Everything had to go right to win today. It was a much classier race. He's a horse that will be very impressive against a lesser class of horse, but against better horses he had to battle.

"He needs a break as he's a horse that needs to be fresh. He has been schooled over hurdles and jumps well. He could make into a nice hurdler and that would keep him sweet."

Weld had earlier struck with the Robbie McNamara-ridden Natural High in the Jockeys Association Maiden Hurdle. The 4/9 favourite, down the field on the Flat here on Monday, collected the winning prize by two and a half lengths, but only after a serious mistake at the second last.

"He jumped well but just missed out the second last and nearly paid for it," said the trainer. "It knocked his confidence a bit. He jumped the last adequately. He should progress for the run.

"Hopefully he'll make a nice hurdler. He would enjoy going further; maybe two-and-a-quarter or two-and-a-half miles."

The hat-trick was completed by 7/2 shot Hit The Jackpot, which eased to a win in the EBF Maiden.

"It was good tactical ride from Pat. He said beforehand that he would be keen to make the running," Weld added.

"He was a very fit horse and knew his job. The blinkers helped him concentrate and he kept going to the line.

"We'll try to go for a Listed race with him."

Reach The Stars was sent off favourite to give the dream team a four-timer and a 17th winner in the Handicap, but he failed to deliver as the William Mullins-trained Pozyc (4/1) claimed victory under Paul Townend.

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