Months of frustration with his horses out of sorts ended gloriously at Galway yesterday for Straffan trainer Tom Taaffe when he captured the coveted Tote Plate with his former Cheltenham Festival hero Finger Onthe Pulse in the hands of a typically forceful Tony McCoy.
Drafted in to partner the 22/1 scorer after intended mount Dancing Tornado was withdrawn lame, the British champion excelled yet again to add the highlight of the summer festival to April's similar breakthrough at Aintree for JP McManus when booting home Don't Push It to claim the John Smith's Grand National.
It was a very close call for the Finger Onthe Pulse camp as 7/1 runner-up Themoonandsixpence headed the winner briefly approaching the straight and then refused to give best for Paul Townend until McCoy exerted maximum pressure to clinch the spoils close home as hot favourite Majestic Concorde finished well for Davy Russell to deny gallant top weight The Fonze third money.
Taaffe's charge, which was only added to the McManus team last season, was wearing the ear plugs which also helped this buzzy performer cope with the Cheltenham hurly-burly before and during his Jewson Handicap Chase success in March, 2008.
“It's the fifth time he's worn them and his third success with the aid. JP was big enough and brave enough to buy this horse and AP controlled the race from the front. Finger Onthe Pulse is a tough horse with a touch of class — just what you need in this race,” Taaffe explained.
“He appreciated this nice ground and I would have been more confident coming here had we a recent winner. The horses were out of form and it was a tough time so this win in a very special race, the pinnacle of the Irish summer, is brilliant,” added Taaffe, whose late father Pat got his name on the roll of honour with Umm in 1955.
Despite failure to complete on his three previous outings over fences, the Accordion gelding was a reformed character here when travelling kindly and jumping accurately as McCoy let him bowl along upsides Lucky Wish until taking him marginally to the front with a circuit to go. The Last Derby, Cuan Na Grai and English raider Five Dream had their moments before the action got really serious over the final fences in the dip, after which the the winner was joined by Themoonandsixpence as Majestic Concorde made stealthy headway too.
However, the inimitable McCoy overdrive kicked in at this juncture and he vitally held the inner as Townend tried everything to wrest the advantage and Russell attempted to rescue an increasingly lost cause aboard the favourite.