Young jockey steers Rajik to feature triumph for Swan
Rising star Joseph O'Brien bagged another big Galway winner as he finished with a wet sail on the Charlie Swan-trained Rajik to land the featured Guinness Handicap last night.
The in-form O'Brien is excellent value for his 7lb claim and the son of champion trainer Aidan produced his mount to perfection down the middle of the track to readily account for Scandal Sheet and 13/8 favourite Natural High.
Rajik was going one better than in this race 12 months ago, and O'Brien -- who recorded a double on Thursday -- said: "I fancied him coming into the race -- he finished second last year and was a little unlucky.
"He travelled well and stays well -- he quickened up and won easily."
Swan also saddled Zaralabad and admitted: "I fancied Zaralabad as he was working really well, but he met a lot of trouble in running.
"When Rajik met the rising ground he flew home, and he could run again over hurdles here on Sunday.
"We'll see how he comes out of this before making any decision."
O'Brien, however, had to settle for second spot as Dermot Weld equalled his own record of 10 Festival winners -- a tally he's now achieved an amazing six times -- when Raffaello Santi just touched off Battleoftrafalgar in the Galway Publicans EBF Maiden.
Pat Smullen was seen at his strongest here as the gelded son of Medicean got up in the closing stages to deny O'Brien's mount by a head.
Sailors Warn also stayed on well to finish just another half-length away in third.
"He battled hard to win, and got there at the right time. He'll go handicapping now," said Weld.
Former Curragh trainer Jeremy Harley was back in the winner's enclosure but this time as an owner after his colours were carried to an impressive success by the well-backed When Not Iff in the Guinness EBF Auction Maiden.
Declan McDonogh made the decisive move when sending the 5/2 favourite clear off the home bend, and the Kevin Prendergast-trained filly galloped on strongly to beat Manacor by a comfortable five lengths.
A delighted Harley said afterwards: "Kevin has always thought a lot of her. The dam is a three-parts sister to Oats, so she should stay well."
Wins Now (20/1) just got up in a desperate finish to turn the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase into a family affair.
Top-weight Truckers Delight made a bold bid from two out after creeping nicely into it under John Cullen and looked to have nicked enough of an advantage off the turn before Wins Now nabbed him.