Galvin produces late rally to deny A Plus Tard in dramatic Savills Chase

Day three of the Christmas festival provided more top class racing from Leopardstown

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Galvin producing a incredible finish to pip A Plus Tard in the Grade 1 Savills Chase

An Engrossing Savills Chase at Leopardstown saw Galvin produce a late charge to deny A Plus Tard in an pulsating finish, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

The feature of the third day at the Christmas festival produced a remarkable race, with Gordon Elliott’s 7-1 shot stealing it at the post in the Grade 1, with Davy Russell in the saddle ensuring he rallied hard.

It gave Ronnie Bartlett’s seven-year-old another big festival win in 2021, after his National Hunt Challenge Cup success over in Cheltenham last March.

Cheveley Park Stud’s A Plus Tard was looking claim back-to-back wins in this race after triumphing 12 months ago and history looked to be repeating itself when the favourite jumped the last in front of 2018 winner Kemboy.

But he was ousted by a valiant last gasp effort from Galvin who edged it on the line.

“That was very important," said the piloting Russell, who landed his first Grade 1 since returning from injury in September.

“It's great to do it on the big stage. I've had a few near misses. I wasn't sure where the line was as I had my head down and my saddle slipped a little bit.

“I knew the further away the line was, the better chance I had. Gordon has done an outstanding job and has nursed him along.”

Elliott added: “That is twelve races won now, he is the horse of a lifetime.

“Davy made sure he got into a lovely rhythm and he stays like hell. I’m very lucky to have him and Jack at the moment.

“That meant a lot to Davy as well because he is very close to Ronnie (Bartlett) as well.

“The horses have jumped out of their skin all week and to win that race is unbelievable. He got confidence out at Down Royal and I think the Gold Cup trip will suit him well.”

Earlier on in the Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle, favourite Klassical Dream made the perfect return to action with an excellent victory.

The day’s other Grade 1 contest lived up to its billing as a straight head-to-head, between the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old and last year’s winner Flooring Porter.

Both were out clear from the off, with the eventual winner getting a flying start on the rest when the flag dropped.

The pair quickly built a commanding lead on the field, and remained in firm control throughout.

The star stayer jumped the last with only a slim lead from Flooring Porter, but when Paul Townend asked for a final effort he responded magnificently.

“We were expecting pace in the race, but obviously it wasn’t there,” said Mullins.

“Paul (Townend) said to me the horse took the initiative and jumped out the gate.

“He (Klassical Dream) is hard to train, but has huge ability. He doesn’t always give you confidence when he works, I was only hoping things would come right today, and they did.

“We’re getting to know him a lot more now – and we trust him.

“We have a lot more confidence in him now, he shows more of a sparkle on the racetrack and we’re very happy that we probably won’t have to go to the well again before Cheltenham.”

His win, coupled with a magnificent success in the Punchestown Stayers Hurdle last April, will increase connections hopes for a Cheltenham Festival Stayers’ Hurdle shot over in England come March 2022.

The Joanne Coleman-owned winner also gave trainer Mullins a first win in this race since Vroum Vroum Mag back in 2016.

Townend had another winner when Galopin Des Champs produced a mightily impressive chasing debut to take the Ballymaloe Relish Beginners Chase.

The 4-7 favourite jumped spectacularly from the off, to win at a canter from Ain’t That A Shame who was a distant second.

His trainer Mullins said: “He was very, very impressive. I thought he was good, I didn’t think he was that good.

“That was something else, he was effortless jumping all these fences. He did everything right and galloped through the line and beyond it.

“He looks a very, very exciting horse for the future.”

The day’s opening race, the Savills Maiden Hurdle, produced the biggest priced winner of the day as the 25-1 shot Howyabud beat favourite Horantzau D’airy, for Mary Doyle and Jack Foley.

It was a maiden win for the four-year-old who had come second on both previous outings. 

Elsewhere, Priory Park headed up a big field in the Irish Daily Star Christmas Handicap Hurdle and produced an excellent run under Mark Walsh to take the win from outsider Nazine.

That gave trainer Eddie O’Grady his 11th winner of the season.

I wasn't sure where the line was as I had my head down and my saddle slipped a little bit - Davy Russell

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