'It's great to be back': Geraghty off to a flyer
Barry Geraghty was back with a bang at Galway as he stormed to victory on his first ride since breaking his arm in the Irish Grand National on April 17.
The opening race of the Galway festival proved a coast for Geraghty as the Joseph O'Brien-trained Le Richebourg passed the winning line with so much petrol in the tank that he could have safely negotiated another circuit in the extended 2m novice hurdle.
His task had been made a much easier one when big market rival Nessun Dorma was ruled out through lameness on Monday morning.
Sent to post a 4-9 shot, the JP McManus-owned gelding carried that burden of expectation to a stylish victory, and had a comfortable five lengths to spare from the front-running Twobeelucky.
Geraghty said: "It's great to be back and it was a nice way to start the festival, winning in the boss's colours.
"In fairness to Joseph, he had Le Richebourg in great condition and he won it very well. He's a nice horse and I think he could have a very decent future. He will have learned a lot from that."
He added: "I would have been a very bad spectator this week, that's for sure. I'm in good shape and it's nice to be back riding at the festival."
O'Brien was also impressed by the performance of his four-year-old, and said: "They went very slow and they winged down over the last two hurdles.
"Going slow wouldn’t have suited him really, because he's running against Flat-bred horses and he has a National Hunt pedigree so it was a very tactical race.
“He missed the second-last and it's very hard to gain momentum up the hill here but he seemed to do it very well. He’s exciting. We will probably look at running him again at Tipperary in October.”
Whiskey on ice as magic Mahon records sweet success
Last successful in the big amateur riders’ handicap at Galway as a rider back in 1985 aboard Pargan, Willie Mullins landed his first success in the race last night as a trainer with Whiskey Sour, and in doing so he provided seven pound claimer Aubrey McMahon with his greatest ever day in racing.
Owned by the rider’s father Luke, Whiskey Sour arrived on the scene travelling well inside the final furlong, before pushing the button to sprint clear in the closing stages.
Mullins said: “I'm not surprised by that. The horse is a previous Galway winner, had a lovely weight and Aubrey took a further seven pounds off his back. The only doubt I had was whether he would run into traffic.
“He broke well enough but got shuffled back on the rail, but when Aubrey felt he was going well he angled out wide and started winding up his challenge. He rode a very good race considering the way it panned out because he didn’t panic or try to go for any gaps that weren’t there."
Mullins added: “This is always a tough race and there are more hard luck stories to emerge from it than any other, so all things considered, it was an impressive performance. He could run again later in the week and at the moment I'm thinking of running him in the mile and a half handicap on the Friday - he has lots of entries."
The stable’s Lagostovegas ran a respectable race in third under Patrick Mullins, while Digeanta made it a 1-3-4 under Katie Walsh for the champion trainer.
Pateen provides Ryder with memorable victory
Ballinasloe-based trainer Shane Ryder was quick to praise Paddy Kennedy after Pateen won the Easyfix handicap hurdle.
Kennedy sent Pateen on to win his race before jumping the second-last hurdle, and the pair ran out over five lengths too strong for their nearest rival Artful Artist.
Ryder said: “We told Paddy to be handy and not to go too wide. He followed the instructions to the tee and thankfully he had a horse everywhere he needed it. This is my Cheltenham and it's great.”