AP McCoy still Ed man
Ulster ace shows class with victory in festival feature
JP McManus's Galway Plate domination might have come to an abrupt end on Wednesday but he received ample compensation yesterday when Thomas Edison finally fulfilled his promise with a barnstorming Guinness Galway Hurdle success under Tony McCoy.
There aren't many marquee National Hunt events that the sport's greatest benefactor hasn't won, but the most valuable jumps race in the land was one of them until his heavily backed 7/2 favourite cruised through between horses on the turn for home here en route to a bloodless three-length rout.
It also constituted a debut Galway Hurdle triumph for the increasingly prolific Ballybrit specialist Tony Martin, who was saddling his third winner of the week having also taken the opening night feature with the similarly fancied Quick Jack.
Ulsterman McCoy and his seven-year-old partner ultimately plundered the €250,000 showpiece in facile style.
In the process, they cruelly confined Martin's Co Meath neighbour Gordon Elliott and jockey Davy Condon to the runner-up berth for the third year in a row with Bayan. C'est la vie.
Thomas Edison slammed Champagne Fever in a Leopardstown bumper in 2011, yet his maiden hurdle win at Bellewstown two years ago was his sole victory in 14 starts over flights prior to this, and he floundered in the Hurdle behind yesterday's Goodwood heroine Missunited 12 months ago.
Two recent wins on the Flat, though, suggested that he had turned a corner.
"It was worth the wait!" Martin quipped.
"What can you say – it's a dream come true. Tony McCoy was excellent on him.
"He is a horse that can be very keen and he has taken a long time to learn his job. We never had him at the pitch we had him today before, but it helps when you have an owner with patience."
Asked if he ever lost faith in the horse, Martin's response was unequivocal: "Never."
McCoy, who recently turned 40 and won this race on Aidan O'Brien's Toast The Spreece in 1997, admitted he didn't share that faith.
"In my heart of hearts I didn't fancy him, but thankfully the trainer knows better than the rest of us," said the incredible 19-time champion, who jets back to England today in search of the 16 wins needed for a fastest century before September 4.
"The wins on the Flat have given the horse some confidence, but to turn him out like that in the richest jump race in the country was some effort. It was a good time to find the winning habit.
"He was very professional. He jumped very well and he travelled very well.
"It's like any big handicap – you need a horse with a bit of class."
As Missunited fought her way to a brave swansong victory at Goodwood amid raucous Ballybrit cheers, Johnny Murtagh was being interviewed after watching Dalkova secure his first Ballybrit win as a trainer.
"This is huge fore me but I think (Missunited's trainer) Michael Winters will give a better interview," he joked.
Dalkova had justified being backed from 10/1 into 13/2 courtesy of a canny front-running ride by Niall McCullagh in the Listed fillies' race.
"It's hard work as winners don't come as often," the former champion jockey said of his new vocation. "But Niall had great faith in this filly."
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend plundered their third wins of the week when the odds-on Alelchi Inois completed its own hat-trick in ready style in the novices' chase, while Stephen Mahon and Denis O'Regan took the beginners' equivalent with locally-owned 12/1 shot Aranhill Chief.
O'Regan was as polished as ever, but his fellow Youghal native Davy Russell briefly stole the show by performing a minor miracle to stay in the saddle after Vaxalco flung him into the air four-out.
In the mile handicap, Mick Halford and Shane Foley got off the mark with Hasanour (9/1), which knuckled down gamely to consign Sretaw to the runner-up berth for a sixth time in a row and a second this week.
Desertmore Stream (3/1) flew home late to nab Icy Reply in the novices' hurdle for Philip Fenton and Brian O'Connell, while Ridestan improved on its second run over hurdles here on Monday to readily land a touch (9/4 into 7/4 favourite) for Denis Hogan and Conor Hoban in the 12-furlong handicap.
John 'Shark' Hanlon's Patrick Mullins-ridden 6/4 favourite Clondaw Farmer then nosed out 50/1 shot Blueprint Bob in a thrilling climax to the bumper.
Mercifully, it was that kind of day for punters.
Attendance came in at 34,077 to easily outshine last year's rain-soaked 27,669.
Bookmakers' take came in at nearly €1.9million compared with €1.3million, while the Tote turnover was €997k versus €820k.