Limini just denied on comeback as Uradel leads home Mullins one-two
Aubrey McMahon had just one of the 20 runners behind him on Uradel for most of the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders’ Handicap, but he produced his mount with a timely surge to pass the one that counted most when thwarting the returning Limini for another famous triumph.
It was the second year in a row that McMahon and Willie Mullins conspired to plunder the prestigious Galway showpiece, having taken the spoils with Whiskey Sour in 2017.
Whiskey Sour is Guinness Galway Hurdle bound on Thursday, and the champion trainer suggested that Uradel, who hadn't raced on the Flat for four years, could have a similar target in 12 months’ time.
Having cruised throughout aboard the 2-1 favourite, Patrick Mullins drove Limini to the front in the straight, but the mare was soon worn down by her stablemate, who prevailed by a length and a half, with nine lengths back to Waaheb in third.
McMahon, whose father Luke owns both of his winners, had just one other victory from 14 rides since last year.
"I'm just overwhelmed, I can't believe it," beamed the 20-year-old.
"It's funny, this time last year I had two horses for the GPT - this fellow and Whiskey Sour - and two or three weeks before the race I wasn't sure which one I was going to ride and didn't this fellow get a niggly injury that ruled him out. I ended up on Whiskey Sour, and I have this fellow this year. It just shows you the way things work out.
"I haven't been able to sleep all week thinking about riding this fellow. I have been looking forward to riding him for months.
"I said to myself after I won last year that I would soak this up and I came here today and I was like, 'jeez, I wouldn't mind that feeling again'. Here it has happened again. You couldn't wish for it."
Magnanimously, the beaten rider, who received a three-day whip ban for failing to give his mount time to respond, was quick to pay tribute to McMahon after his quest for a first win in the race was dramatically foiled.
“Aubrey has a knack of winning the race, so I’m going to have to sit him down and find out what it is,” said Mullins, who felt Limini was not beaten for fitness. “She ran a cracker, and was giving the winner a stone.”
Mullins’ father Willie added of his 12-1 winner: “Limini was travelling well and then I looked back and saw Uradel was travelling well. I thought if she was going to have trouble it would be from him, and it turned out that way.
“It was a tremendous performance from Aubrey as a 7lb claimer to win it two years in a row, and it’s great for Luke as well.”
Of Limini, who was having her first start since the 2017 Cheltenham Festival and likewise her first on the Flat for nearly four years, he added: “If you take the winner out, she's a long way clear. It was a very good run after being off for so long.
"We’ll see what the handicapper does but she might have to go into Listed races. All being well, they’ll both be back next year.”
Attendance on day one of the festival came in at 20,194, up three per cent on last year's 19,663.
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