Downpours and deluges were the order of the day at damp Ballybrit for the second episode of the 2012 Galway Races. So much rain soaked the ground that the going was changed from good in the morning to soft after the first race. By the time the last race was due off there had been no let up in the showers and the talk round the track was of how heavy the going had become.
The rain played the most important role in the day’s drama, adversely affecting the best laid plans of many trainers and it had a hand in the destination of the main race. The day’s feature, the Topaz Mile Handicap, went the way of Vastonea in the colours of Norman Ormiston. The grey gave trainer Kevin Prendergast, who celebrated his eightieth birthday earlier this year his fifth winner of the race.
Joseph O’Brien on English raider Pintura made a bold bid to make all the running and galloping into the home straight it looked as if the young jockey’s bravery would be rewarded. Custom Cut’s bid to provide a fairytale ending petered out in the last 100 yards but Declan McDonagh gave Vastonea a canny ride to bring him fast and late down the outside and he won by half a length but was going away at the line.
For McDonagh it was his second victory in the race and he attributed his win to Vastonea’s staying power.
“I was unlucky not to win on him in Leopardstown. Staying won it today and the rain came in time for him. I was able to hold his position in fourth behind the leaders and staying won the day. It’s good for Norman (Ormiston, owner) and it’s nice to have a good winner at Galway,” the delighted rider told RTE.
More joy was to follow in the final race the CaulfieldIndustrial.com EBF maiden for McDonagh and Prendergast, who watched proceedings from his Curragh home. It was a slog through the mud for the three year olds but Maude Adams dug deep in the colours of the trainers wife Lesley to prevail from the staying on September Lily. “It was a bit of a slog but she battled well and got through the ground,” reported the winning jockey.
Pride of the Artic is the pride of Monasterevin after providing the Fahey family with a homegrown success in the Latin Quarter Chase. The gelding sports the colours of his breeder Brendan Fahey and is trained by Brendan’s brother Peter. The family connections are even closer as winning jockey Andrew Leigh is Peter’s brother in law.
The field was made up of some experienced former stars and a couple of promising young horses but none of them were able to put a glove on Artic Pride. Leigh rode a sensible race, dictating a steady pace from the head of affairs and he was able to pull away from the pack in the straight, coming home five and a half lengths clear of Supreme Doc.
“He galloped and jumped away very well today and he’s better over fences. He looks to be improving all the time and he’s a lovely horse. It’s great for everyone in the yard as he’s not the easiest to keep sound,” said a thrilled Peter Fahey after the race.
Face Value got the evening off to a flying start for the bookies as the 14-1 shot foiled a number of gambles to become the first four year old winner of the Topaz Novice Hurdle for seven years.
Talented claimer David Splaine steered a clear path throughout the race and although Face Value made a mistake at the last he showed great heart and determination to beat Zuzka by three and a half lengths.
He was very game really as he was the first off the bridle, though in fairness he was getting all the allowances. David is a very good lad to ride, he has a good eye from his show-jumping days. We’ve no plans and even though he’s in again on Friday he’ll probably get a break now and come back for Bellewstown,” added winning trainer Ado McGuinness.
It wouldn’t be Galway without a Weld winner and although the rain seriously dampened his chances, the King of Ballybrit still managed to register another on the festival scoreboard. Lady O’Reilly’s Voleuse de Couers rewarded his followers and favourite backers with an impressive eight length victory in the two mile Topaz Handicap. The daughter of Teofilo was the first winning favourite of race week 2012.
Weld’s Big Break was all the rage for the Caulfieldindustrial.com EBF Maiden but Famous Name’s baby sister got none of the breaks on her racecourse debut. Instead Aidan and Joseph O’Brien teamed up for their first winner of the week with the impeccably bred Magical Dream. The daughter of Lockinge winner Red Evie improved no end from her debut at Naas to win the seven furlong contest from Diamnd Sky and the luckless Big Break.
Golden Shoe overcame a tough race at Down Royal on Friday, testing ground and the rain to reel in Crystal Morning in the shadow of the post to claim the Caulfield industrial Athlone Handicap for jockey Chris Hayes and trainer Jim Gorman by just a head.