Galway rocking after Rebel Fitz's hurdle win
Report: Galway, Thursday
Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle (Grade A) 2m, 4yo+
IF racegoers thought the tumultuous scenes of Moon Dice's victory last year couldn't be match, they were wrong. Trainer Michael Winters was carried shoulder high as Ballybrit rocked to another Guinness Galway Hurdle party after a thrilling victory for Rebel Fitz.
Trained in Kanturk, County Cork and owned by Brian Sweetnam, the post-race scenes in the parade ring suggested all of the town had packed in to welcome back their winner.
Well-backed into 11-2, the winner of one of the richest races in the Irish jumps calendar, confirmed the promise of his victory in his prep race at Tipperary less than two weeks ago and defied a 6lb penalty received for that win.
But coming down into the dip owner JP McManus must have thought that one of the biggest prizes in jumps racing he had yet to win would finally be annexed.
Captain Cee Bee, who eventually ran on to be third, travelled well as did one of the big-race gambles, Princeton Plains, and none travelled better than the third of the McManus runners, Plan A.
But on their heels Davy Russell was biding his time on the seven-year-old and as the field swung to the last hurdle he took up the running and sprinted two lengths clear.
It looked all over but, with the winner idling, the Gordon Elliott-trained 25-1 shot Cause Of Causes flew from the clouds and came within inches of catching the winner but just came up short.
Winters wore a relieved but happy face. "Coming down the hill I thought we were beat and I thought we were done on the line," he said.
"We had a fantastic rehearsal at Tipperary, he came out of that race great and as you can see the owners enjoyed it as well. They were like lunatics after the race."
The race favourite Drive Time took a heavy fall at the flight away from the stands and brought down 8-1 chance Lexi's Boy.
Ruby Walsh was taken to hospital for x-rays, with Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGolrick reporting that Walsh was unconscious for up to 90 seconds after the fall but was fully alert as he left for hospital.
McGoldrick said: "Ruby is stood down automatically for six days because he was knocked out. We'll wait and see what the tests on his sore shoulder reveal."
Jason Maguire, who rode Lexi's Boy, escaped injury.