Sionnach Eile shines in the rain to deliver Galway glory for Joe Murphy

Rebecca Harrington and Shane Foley continued their successful week at Ballybrit with a double

Friday, July 29, 2022

The elements brought out the best in Sionnach Eile on Friday

Trainer Joseph Murphy landed a Galway Summer Festival feature success as Sionnach Eile ran out a very impressive winner in the Guinness Handicap, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

In atrocious conditions on Friday evening the five-year-old, carrying top weight, stormed away down the home straight after being given a clear run under Gary Carroll.

Dame Rapide put in a gallant display in second, but was no match for the eventual winner, who went off at 9-1.

He backed up his credentials in fine style after winning in Ballinrobe 11 days ago and an overjoyed Murphy said if the rain came, he was always confident in the half-brother to Galway Hurdle winner Swamp Fox.

The winning trainer added that a tilt at the Cesarewitch Handicap was now the likely aim.

“We were praying for rain,” admitted Murphy. “The way he was working at home, he needed all the time.

“But he came with age if you know what I mean. 

“I thought the handicapper was hard on him, but I’ll have to apologise to him now!

“He is in the Cesarewitch and we have a little question about him getting the two miles but, after that performance, I think he’ll get it.

“Galway means everything. There are two things associated with Irishmen, All-Ireland and Galway. So if you get one you’re going to have a good year.”

Winning jockey Carroll admitted he was also concerned by the extra weight, but delighted with Sionnach Eile’s display.

“I was worried whether gaining 12lb would put a stop to him,” he said. “But when the rain came today it really helped him.


“He never really settled, I ended up committing a bit soon, but he quickened very well and put the race to bed.

“We have figured him out. He is stronger and a little wiser, he was running on nervous energy before so the hood is obviously a help.”

Earlier on, in the Guinness Galway Blazers Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead managed to get off the mark for the week in fine style thanks to Gabbys Cross.

The seven-year-old stayed on magnificently in the closing stages to have too much for pre-race favourite Busselton.

His stellar jumping performance proved too much for a high quality field that included the Willie Mullins-trained Fan De Blues who finished third and 2021 Irish Grand National winner Freewheelin Dylan.

“It was great he stayed at it really well,” said Blackmore. “It was a great result to get. He was a bit slow maturing and can be a tricky horse at home.

“So they do a great job with him down there.

“Busselton wasn’t going away but my lad stuck at it really well.

“He seems to have taken to chasing well so hopefully there will be more to come.”

In the day’s opener, the Galway Tribes Handicap Hurdle, Peter Fahey picked up his fourth win of the week when Sit Down Lucy held off a late push from Teed Up. 

Elsewhere, Rebecca Harrington and Shane Foley continued their successful week at Ballybrit with a double.

Roman Hands railed to get ahead of San Anton in a photo finish in the day’s second contest, the James’s Gate sponsored Maiden.

And later Willamette Valley took the Guinness Irish EBF Fillies’ Maiden after she did just enough to hold off a charge from the Aidan O’Brien-trained Ark.

We were praying for rain - Joseph Murphy