survived a late scare from a loose horse to hold on and win a Tote Galway Plate
thriller in Wednesday’s showpiece race, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.
It was another landmark victory for John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s remarkable find, bought for just £850, following on from his Bet365 Gold Cup win at Sandown as he won a typically incident-packed race where four horses were brought down by the hurdles.
The charging Darasso very nearly caught Hewick in the final few yards, with the eventual winner hampered by a loose horse, with the British raider Exelerator Express - who was brought down earlier - on the rail side.
Both were well clear of pre-race favourite El Barra who could only manage third for Willie Mullins.
Long-time leader, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Fire Attack, fell when five from home, blowing the Grade A contest wide open and it was Hanlon’s runner who just about managed to take advantage.
O’Brien still nearly snatched victory with Darasso’s late charge in the final strides, but the post came just in time for winning jockey Jordan Gainford and Hewick.
"It's unbelievable, it's some training performance," said Gainford. “It was a funny old race, but when it goes that way it's brilliant.
“At the last I wasn’t sure what was coming towards me.
“It (the loose horse) wasn't ideal. I even had the stand side in my head when I walked the track this morning.
“When you cross the line in front you can look back at those things and thankfully it didn't go the wrong way.
“This horse is unbelievable. I thought the trip might be an issue but it wasn’t. His jumping was unbelievable.”
Prior to the race Hanlon suggested the trip could be a little short for Hewick, but he travelled superbly throughout, unaffected by the chaos around him and only looking in danger due to the late interference.
And the winning trainer could barely contain his delight after such a dramatic triumph, bringing home his first Galway Plate.
“It is great to get a big one like this,” said Hanlon. “For the team at home and everyone this is so important.
“It is great that it all happened the way it did. Jordan gave him a super ride, a super ride, he couldn’t have done it any better.
“The loose horse was all I was afraid of.”