WATCH - Balko Des Flos justifies support to give Davy Russell his first Galway Plate success
Davy Russell has added the Galway Plate to his list of major race successes after he steered the Henry de Bromhead-trained Balk Des Flos (6/1) to an impressive victory in the Galway Plate today at Ballybrit.
Monsoon-like rain fell just before the race but it didn't affect the talented six-year-old who powered off the last win by the best part of five lengths.
There was a lot of money riding on Willie Mullins' Shaneshill (3/1f) but a mistake at the second last put pay to his chances, although he did stay on to to be second.
Joseph O'Brien's Slowmotion (14/1) ran a cracker in third with A Toi Phil (9/1) fourth and the front-running Sandymount Duke (12/1) staying on to be fifth.
It was a second victory in the race for Waterford handler De Bromhead, who won the prestigious race with Shanahan's Turn in 2015.
Russell said: "He was very good and all the credit must go to Henry and the team really.
"He travelled and jumped and I got to the front early enough, but the last thing I asked Davy Roche (De Bromhead's assistant) going out was whether he'd stay and he said 'absolutely, stamina is not an issue', so I was happy enough to let him go.
"I winged the last two fences and it's hard to give away that advantage by sitting up and pulling back.
"The horse was really fit and he was brave up the hill.
"I've never won this race, so it's nice to do it."
De Bromhead said: "It was brilliant and I'm delighted. He got super ride and I can't believe we've won it again - it's amazing.
"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 happening (from some way out).
"Davy was brilliant on him, but everything went our way today.
"We'll make a plan after I speak to Eddie and Michael (O'Leary).
"It was bottomless the day he won in Fairyhouse so he seems to go on anything really.
"It was great to see him handle that so well. I was a little bit concerned about the ground to be honest, that it might be too good for him."
He added: "He's already a proven winter horse, he won his beginners' chase at Fairyhouse in January so we'll see now if he can go to the next level."
Shaneshill's jockey Ruby Walsh registered his first victory at the 2017 Festival when Minella Beau made a successful hurdling debut in the Win Big With Tote Maiden Hurdle.
The well-backed 5-4 favourite was tackling obstacles for the first time under rules but Walsh was happy to set his own pace, and he was tracked by fellow Willie Mullins inmate Castello Sforza from halfway.
A mistake two out put paid to his stable companion's chances, with Turbojet emerging as the chief threat, but Minella Beau had plenty left in the tank and held on by three-quarters of a length.
Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: "It's fantastic for the Mees (owners). It was Michael's idea to come here. We'd have put him out until the winter, but Michael said if the ground was safe that he should run here.
"He wants further and softer ground to be seen at his best."
Mullins then donned the Mee silks to land the Win Big With Tote (Q.R.) Maiden on his father's Exchange Rate.
Successful in a bumper but having his first outing under Flat rules, the easy-to-back 7-2 chance looked in need of a run two furlongs out, but the gap came and he responded well to dispose of Great Trango by two and a quarter lengths.
Miss Eyecatcher ran out a tremendously game winner of the Tote Irish EBF Mares Handicap Hurdle.
A smart bumper performer, Roger McGrath's charge had not really got her act together since going jumping, but David Mullins rode a positive race on her and she was to the fore from the start.
There were plenty of challengers queuing up behind her swinging for home, but the 14-1 shot really stuck her neck out and crossed the line a length and a quarter to the good over Rosie Alice.
Davids Charm (14-1) came off the reserves' bench to run away with TheTote.com Handicap Hurdle.
Up 16lb for his Listowel win in June, the John Joe Walsh-trained six-year-old still has plenty to learn because he ran around a bit after taking up the running on the home turn, but he is some way ahead of the assessor and beat Clara Sorrento by seven and a half lengths under Ambrose McCurtin.
Walsh said: "He's in here again on Sunday - over three miles - we'll see how he is," said John Joe Walsh.
"Ambrose gave him a really good ride."