Weld weaves magic to get Galway punters off to flying start
Two favourites and a joint market leader obliged in the first three races to ensure punters got off to a flying start on the opening day of the Galway Festival.
Ballybrit's enduring kingpin Dermot Weld had the bookies reeling at an early remove. Diplomat, having been as big as 7/4 in places on Sunday night, returned a facile winner of the curtain-raising novice hurdle for him under Ruby Walsh, and the weight of money saw the layers eventually return him at odds-on.
The 9/2 market leader Aladdins Cave then followed up for Colm Murphy and Barry Geraghty, before Weld's Mustajeeb outgunned fellow joint-favourite Friendship to satisfy forecast backers in the two-year-old race.
The bookmakers got a bit of respite when Edeymi prevailed in a thrilling edition of the featured amateur riders' race to set up a double for Tony Martin, but Target Acquired and Wicklow Brace were other well-backed winners that sent the masses back towards the Tribal City in raptures.
At 17,989, attendance for day one was up 1.5pc on 2012, and the track management also received deserved praise for the state of the ground. Still, the card wasn't without incident. John Joe Walsh's Lady Giselle was disqualified after going down by a head to Dark Crusader in the Galway Oyster Hotel Handicap.
Gary Carroll weighed in 1.6lbs light on the 16/1 shot, and riders are allowed only a pound leeway. Fran Berry received a one-day ban for his use of the whip on Dark Crusader, while Patrick Mullins got a four-day holiday for careless riding on Wicklow Brave in the concluding bumper.
It was an otherwise hugely successful evening. More of the same tonight, please.