Swamp Fox takes control in Galway feature
Swamp Fox overcame a difficult wide draw to win the Connacht Hotel Handicap, the feature race on day one of the Galway Festival.
Trained by Joe Murphy and ridden by a delighted Barry Browne, the four-year-old gelding struck at Ballinrobe just a week ago yet was at the foot of the weights for this ultra-competitive contest.
Swamp Fox had to break from stall 18, but Browne did a superb job to muscle his way into contention and was good value for his two-and-a-quarter-length defeat of big eyecatcher Ted Veale, who could also run in the Galway Hurdle later in the week.
Jocular made plenty of the running in the extended two-mile contest for qualified riders before he was overtaken by Asbury Boss with about a mile to go. Katie Walsh's partner still held a narrow advantage heading into the final three furlongs, but Benkei then took control.
His challenge from the front was short-lived, though, as Swamp Fox (16-1) gained the lead at the top of the straight and never looked back. Benkei ended up finishing an honourable third, while Renneti was fourth.
Twenty-five-year-old Browne, from Donadea, County Kildare, said: "I can't thank Garry Cribbin (jockeys' agent) enough for getting the ride and losing 6lb to make the weight was definitely well worthwhile.
"It's unbelievable - I've been professional in England in the past and it's in my head to turn back again. I've 13 winners left to lose my 7lb claim."
Murphy was proud to have executed a long-term plan with Swamp Fox.
"This was the plan," said the County Tipperary handler.
"We had him in an amateur Flat race at Leopardstown and we thought he would go well there and that would put him right for here. Then we went to Ballinrobe and the handicapper gave us 1lb.
"We were very lucky to get the rider as it was in the last moment. I did a bit of research and this rider was recommended to me. One thing about him is he will travel, he will finish and he's a lazy horse.
"I have always said there is a big race in this horse and he is a lovely horse to have. To win an amateur race here and to have a big race in Galway just makes life worth living!"