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Galway Festival: Man for the big occasion

Banna Man took top honours on the final day of the Galway Festival as Bryan Cooper gave the 10-year-old a great ride to land the Connacht Tribune Handicap Chase.

Racing from 6lb out of the handicap, but crucially a course-and-distance winner at Ballybrit a couple of years ago, Banna Man cruised up alongside Truckers Delight after the last.

It looked like the 8/1 chance would go on to win easily, but 7lb claimer Cooper had to keep him up to his work to secure a two-length success over Arkendale.

Winning trainer Thomond |O'Mara said: “He won here on this day two years ago. He was thrown in here off a nice weight.

“He ran well here on Monday evening over hurdles and we decided to take our chance. I thought the ground might have a been a shade quick.

“I'm delighted he won a big pot and Bryan was good on him. It's his first time riding for me.”

Kilmurry was an emphatic 12-length winner of the Galway Bay FM Beginners Chase for Henry de Bromhead and Andrew Lynch.

Third previously on his fencing debut at Killarney, the five-year-old jumped like an old hand and never looked back after leading three out. Prince Erik was sent off the 9/4 favourite but was an early casualty.

“That was brilliant, I was delighted with him,” said the winning trainer. “He was always going to be a chaser, so that's why we decided to kick on with him, even though he is only a five-year-old.

“He ran well first time out at Killarney and one of the lads involved in him was keen to come to Galway.

“There is a two-and-a-half-mile novice chase at Tipperary in October that springs to mind for him.”

Prince Chaparral's victory in the galwayraces.com Handicap made it a day to remember for Pat Flynn after the Co Waterford handler had struck in Group Three company at Cork with star mare She's Our Mark.

“She only cost around 12 grand as a yearling and she has been an unreal servant as she's had well over 40 runs,” said Flynn.

Impersonator (11/2) completed a hat-trick when holding Acclaimed in the Easyfix Handicap Hurdle, leading two flights from home and keeping on well up the hill to triumph by a length and a quarter.

The Tony Mullins-trained gelding was always travelling sweetly for Emmet Mullins and eased into the lead approaching the last before seeing off the challenge of Acclaimed.

Meanwhile Tony McCoy has been eased slightly in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year betting — despite a double at Market Rasen yesterday.

McCoy is still the favourite but is now 15/8 from 7-4 due to European Championships success for British athletes.

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