Willie Mullins picked up his third feature race
triumph in as many days at the Galway Festival as Jazzaway pipped Western
Victory in a thrilling Guinness Handicap Hurdle, writes Paul Martin.
With the Plate and Hurdle already safely in his possession, Mullins had four contenders for Friday’s showpiece with one of them, My Sister Sarah, setting off as the 5-1 joint-favourite.
Western Victory and Litterale Chi set the pace and though the gap closed between the frontrunners and the chasing pack, Shane Fitzgerald was looking comfortable on the former and appeared to be closing in on victory for Declan Queally.
But Conor McNamara and Jazzaway stepped on the accelerator inside the final 200 yards and reeled in the leader at the death to bank another success for Mullins, with this one worth €47,200 to continue a week to remember at Ballybrit.
The result marked a second successive victory for the six-year-old mare, who claimed a Grade B handicap hurdle at Punchestown in April having finished second at the Galway Festival last year.
"I told the owner she wasn't going to run this week as she was lame the other day, but whatever happened, 24 hours later, she seemed fine and then she comes out and does this,” Mullins said.
"It was minor but at the time it looked major, especially for Galway week and she also lost a shoe today.
“She is brave and has now won a handicap in Punchestown and comes here, going out in trip, and wins another handicap.
“We'll see where the next big prize money race is and I don't know if she'll go jumping fences or not.
"We're very happy with what she's done and she has done more than we ever thought she would."
It was almost an action replay for McNamara, who had steered Hallowed Star to a dramatic victory in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle an hour previously.
Again it was Queally who missed out, with Ashqar leading over the last only for Hallowed Star to get up superbly and land a winner for John ‘Shark’ Hanlon.
The day five action had started with a repeat of the Patrick and Willie Mullins show from Thursday as Purple Mountain won the James's Gate Maiden Hurdle, aided by Gamin Original falling at the last just as Paul Townend began to make his move.
Townend bounced back to lead Grand Bornand to glory in the Guinness Beginners Chase, Mullins’ ninth winner of the week.
Denise Foster picked up her first victory of the 2021 Festival when Battleoverdoyen held off Ben Dundee in the Arthur Guinness Chase, with four of the five starters having competed in the Plate earlier in the week, and there was another popular local
winner for the Gilligan family as Jack steered Born by the Sea to a fine victory in the Blazers Handicap Chase for father Paul.
The action was concluded by the Hope House 13 Flat Race, which was won by The Gossiper for Emmet Mullins with Mike O'Connor on board.