Patrick and Willie Mullins made it a second Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap in three years and the jockey revealed the key to his success - a stern word from his father the night before, writes Will Jennings.
Patrick piloted Aramon to a brilliant two and a quarter length victory over Hearts Are Trumps in the Grade A Thursday showpiece, having mustered only an 11th-place finish on Easy Game in the Tote Galway Plate the night before.
He improved on that in style in the 2m Hurdle, however, hitting the accelerator as they turned for home to emulate his exploits on Sharjah in the race back in 2018.
Amateur ace Patrick only gets 21 chances against the professionals each year and says a desire to avoid another ‘bollocking’ from Willie was the key to making this one count.
“I got a good bollocking off Willie yesterday for missing the start in the Plate, so I wasn’t going to miss it today!” the jubilant 30-year-old said.
“You only get 21 rides against the pros so you have to make them count - it’s great to be able to prove yourself, even in big handicaps and Grade One races.
“You’re often on the best horse and you’ll win, but handicaps take a lot of riding and I’ve been very lucky to ride these horses.
“My weight is the top weight but that means they’re classy horses and I’ve just been very lucky to be in the position I’m in, with my father training the horses, really.
“This one certainly means as much as the others - I think as you get older you appreciate them more, and I turned 30 last year so then you start thinking you have ten chances or less in every race you ride in.
“To ride in these big races you have to make them all count, and at my weight I never thought I’d get the ride in this, let alone win it.
“So to win it twice isn’t even a dream - I’m just very lucky to be riding for my father, as that makes anything possible, really.”
Aramon started strongly in what was a closely-congested field throughout the opening mile, with Hunters Call, Petit Mouchoir and Buildmeupbuttercup disputing towards the front.
That quartet continued to duel it out as the competitive field turned for home, with little to separate the front-runners as they jumped the ninth and final hurdle.
But it was there when Mullins hit the throttle in style, soaring away from Desmond McDonogh’s Hearts Are Trumps to open up an increasingly dominant advantage.
And Hearts Are Trumps and Henry de Bromhead’s Petit Mouchoir could only chase Aramon home as the rider made it a pair of Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap triumphs after Sharjah’s hegemony two years ago.
Sharjah went on to run in the previous two renewals of the Cheltenham Festival’s prestigious Champion Hurdle, being brought down in 2019 before coming second behind Epatante in this year’s instalment.
Mullins purred as his mount reigned supreme and reckons Aramon, who combated an 11st10lbs handicap at Ballybrit, has what it takes to follow in Sharjah’s footsteps.
“He could be a Champion Hurdle horse in March - he jumped fantastically today,” he added.
“He’s eight pounds higher than Sharjah - on form it’s a better mark, and you’d like to think that he could do what Sharjah did and improve into a Champion Hurdle horse.
“You’d have to be 160lbs after that, which is very close to the top hurdlers in England and Ireland at the minute.”