Ruby Walsh showed his delight in landing his first Galway Hurdle successPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Walsh in wonderland
as Clondaw clings on
Report: Galway, Thursday
Guinness Galway Hurdle (Grade A handicap) 2m, 4yo+
RUBY WALSH’S long wait for Galway Hurdle success came to an end as top dual-purpose performer Clondaw Warrior hung on from the fast-finishing Hidden Cyclone in Ireland's richest jumps race.
The jockey’s delight was two-fold as the heavily-backed 9-2 favourite is owned by a syndicate including his wife Gillian, who also experienced the high of Royal Ascot success last year with the durable nine-year-old.
It was worthy compensation for trainer Willie Mullins, who saddled a 2-3-4 in Wednesday’s Galway Plate, as he bridged a gap of 20 years back to his previous Galway Hurdle success with Mystical City.
Following home the admirable 11-year-old Hidden Cyclone (25-1), who finished fourth in the race last year, was Princely Conn (16-1) and Modem (25-1).
The pace was moderate throughout much of the two-mile showpiece but the race cranked up a gear exiting the back straight, where leading British contender Superb Story dropped back quickly through the field after racing wide.
Bamako Moriviere, also trained by Mullins, was at the sharp end turning in but was soon passed by Modem and Princely Conn, with Clondaw Warrior and Hidden Cyclone travelling with gusto on their outside.
Clondaw Warrior jumped the last in third place but wore down the front two before having enough in reserve to deny Hidden Cyclone at the death.
A jubilant Walsh, sporting a huge grin, said: “It was brilliant. It didn’t really go to plan as I was further back than I wanted to be, but you have to ride the race as it pans out in front of you.
“I got a brilliant run into the dip and out of the dip and it’s horses for courses as he showed he likes that hill again. When I pulled him out I thought I had it won there and I was surprised how Hidden Cyclone came at me.
“He’s a brilliant horse, it was a brilliant training performance and it’s great for the girls. I think Gillian will be taking me out to dinner tonight!”
Cyclone 'a great credit'
If Walsh had two reasons to be cheerful, the opposite can be said of Hidden Cyclone’s trainer Shark Hanlon, who used to have Clondaw Warrior in his care.
However, he was looking to the positives as he said: “Hidden Cyclone is 11 and a credit to me and the whole team. I was going through the stats this morning and no 11-year-old had been placed in the last ten years so I thought this year we'd change that.
“He's a great horse and was fourth in this last year and second this year. He'll be 12 next year and maybe too old for it, but I'd love to bring him back. He's in a chase here on Saturday and may run. We'll see how he is.”
The JP McManus-owned Princely Conn gave 5lb claimer Rachael Blackmore a great spin and she said: “He jumped his way to the front and I didn't want to start taking him back. It's nice to be in these colours and two places in front would have been magic.”
Dan Skelton was left scratching his head after Superb Story failed to replicate his Cheltenham Festival heroics and was eventually pulled up.
“We were happy with him, but maybe the travelling took the edge off him,” he said. “The other thing is I've never ran him right-handed and he was hanging to his left all the way.”