Emmet Mullins showered Wesley Joyce with praise after the latter’s strong ride steered Crowns Major to top spot in the featured Galway Shopping Centre Handicap on the penultimate day of the 2021 Galway Festival, writes Peter White.
The Japanese-bred four-year-old had finished second in the 2m½f Latin Quarter Handicap earlier in the week, but a step back in trip paid off as he and Joyce reined in pacesetter Longbourn to finish clear.
Victory in the 1m4f contest marked Mullins’ third of the week, after success with Zero Ten and The Gossiper in the Monami Construction Maiden and Hop House 13 Flat Race respectively.
And having got his hands on the €59,000 prize pot, Mullins heralded the influence of Joyce while predicting more to come from Crowns Major in the near future.
“We’re over the moon with that today,” he said. “It didn’t work out on Tuesday - it was his first run in the handicap and his inexperience told - but he learnt quickly and proved that today.
“It was definitely a worry dropping back to a mile-and-a-half today, but with the money on offer we had to try and take our chance. Thankfully it paid off.
“We’ll target all those big staying handicaps for the rest of the season - he’s an exciting horse going forward.”
Joyce added: “He jumped very smart and I sat behind the leaders as I thought they were going a bit quick. I said I'd let them go on and give my horse a breather.
“I came along, picked them up, gave him two slaps and then he just brought me home. He won with a bit in hand and he’s a very nice horse.”
Earlier in the day, Shane Foley and Nectaris dominated from the off to take top spot in the 7f Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden for Jessica Harrington, ahead of Stormy Duchess and Zoffman.
Harrington said: “She was good. The little bit of an ease in the ground helped her.
“Shane said he'd like her to relax a bit more but she is a forward-going filly. Running down the hill here she was tanking with Shane and then she got to the straight and was having a good look around.
“A bit more dig in the ground will suit her. I'd say she'll step up into a Listed race and maybe she'll get a mile.”
Elsewhere, Cool And Clever under Kevin Manning delivered Jim Bolger his first win of the Festival in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Nursery Handicap, while Dermot Weld tasted victory for the third time this week with Colin Keane and Sherkin Island triumphing
in the Irish Independent On Saturday Maiden.
The day six action had started with a win for Declan McDonogh aboard Buckaroo for Joseph O’Brien in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden - the trainer’s fourth first place at this year’s Galway Festival.
It was a real family affair in the O'Leary Insurances Handicap as Andrew Slattery Jr piloted Dedillon to the win for his father, a result that saw him ride out his 3lb claim.
John Murphy's Kaaranah took the spoils in the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap (3yo 50-80) under Seamie Heffernan, while the action was concluded with the McDonogh Capital Investments Handicap, won by Robert Whearty and Dazzling Darren for Gavin Cromwell.