Saltonstall seals stunning Mile Handicap win in thrilling climax

Day two of Galway Festival delivers as Adrian McGuinness sees Gavin Ryan pip Njord

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Saltonstall ridden by Gavin Ryan beats Njord in their dying strides in the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap

They say good things come to those who wait and both Gavin Ryan and Adrian McGuinness had a long time to suffer on day two of the Galway Races Summer Festival, writes Bradley West.

The look of dread on trainer McGuinness’ face turned to elation after well over five long minutes of waiting for the official call as Saltonstall was finally declared the winner of the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap following a thrilling photo-finish with Njord.

And the success makes it a second successive victory in the one-mile encounter for both horse and trainer, a feat McGuinness was almost at a loss for words describing.

“I can’t believe that we’ve done it back to back and it’s more of a surprise than last year,” McGuinness said.

“It was all so close – I was up in the top tier of the stand and didn’t know (if he had won).

“The plan was to drop in and Gavin gave him a wonderful ride. It was serious stuff from him.

“I was worried his 5lb (claim) would be gone before this race came around, but he’s a very very good jockey and I’m thrilled to bits.

“We worked the horse last week and he worked badly, so we were wondering would we be running him at all.

“He’s had days at the beach since, and a full day in the field. He had a tendency to bleed so we have to be very careful with him.”

In a thrilling race typical of the Galway Summer Festival Jessica Harrington’s Njord lost out by a nose with Only Human and Tauran Shaman making it a 2-3-4 for the 73-year-old trainer.

After Ben Coen’s Nebo had taken an early march on proceedings it was the four-year-old Njord who took closer order behind the leaders at halfway before taking the lead from over a furlong out.

The result appeared a formality from there as Harrington’s charge began to stretch its legs over the field but Saltonstall, who had been last at halfway, was ridden well up the inside and found a burst of pace late on to not only challenge but also beat Njord by a nose on the line.

The day had began with a commanding performance as Kevin Manning steered Meala to an 11-length victory in the Fillies Maiden.

Harrington faired better earlier in the day with victory in the second race, the Caulfield Industrial Irish EBF Maiden, with 3-1 shot Rocket Science.

From there it was the turn of Champers Elysees to give trainer Johnny Murtagh an eighth winner in the last seven days – taking victory in the Colm Quinn BMW Irish EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes.

Joseph O’Brien made it two wins in as many days with Flying Scotsman while there were also victories for Philip Byrne’s Out On Friday, Denis Hogan’s Mulzamm and Padraig Roche’s Walking on Glass.

I can’t believe that we’ve done it back to back and it’s more of a surprise than last year.

- Adrian McGuinness

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