Aladdins cave is golden goose
Aladdins Cave justified favouritism when recording an easy victory in the handicap hurdle on the opening session of the Galway Festival last night.
The winner is owned by the Ulster-based, Treasure Hunters Syndicate which includes 12 members, the majority well-known personalities within the local racing arena.
Rodney Watson heads the syndicate and while several members missed the win being on holiday in Spain, the owner of the Killyhevlin Hotel was delighted with the victory.
"The horse was bought by Bloodstock agent, Kevin Ross [from Glengormley] at the horses in training sales and he has given us a lot of fun – he was bred by the Queen," explained Watson.
"I'm delighted to have a winner at Galway as my father [Archie Watson] trained Lisnaree to win the Galway Plate in 1970."
The local winner is trained by Colm Murphy who won the Champion Hurdle with Brave Inca and was partnered by Barry Geraghty.
"He was well handicapped over hurdles compared to his flat rating and Colm [Murphy] had him in great order for tonight," said an ecstatic Geraghty.
Aladdins Cave had not raced since contesting the Ulster Derby at Down Royal last month and had not raced over hurdles since November last year at Fairyhouse. Trainer Colm Murphy added: "We thought he had a right chance – I'm delighted for the owners.
"Galway being Galway you need everything to go right and Barry took the brave man's route down the inner. He just pulls up when he gets there a little bit soon.
"We've been a while waiting for this and it's nice when it works out. He is entered again later in the week [the one and a half flat handicap tomorrow]. We will see how he is after tonight."
Meanwhile, Tony Martin's status as a handicap trainer extraordinaire was revitalised as Edeymi clung on for glory under Steven Clements in a dramatic finish to the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders' Race.
Redera also kept on gamely to grab third for Martin under Maxine O'Sullivan in the €70,000 (£604,000) contest, and the Summerhill handler completed a 220/1 brace when Dark Crusader prevailed in similarly frenetic fashion for Fran Berry an hour later.
Charles Byrnes' well-backed Domination (12/1 into 7/1) nearly foiled the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Edeymi in the showpiece event.
Each of the eventual first three home had come through under patient rides from the rear of the field, and Clements switched his partner off the rail to take a decisive lead a furlong down.
However, Domination came wider still with a similar burst for Declan Queally. Both horses gave their all in a pulsating climax to the two-miler, but it was Edeymi that flashed by the post a head to the good.
Successful on its last start on the Flat on the all-weather at Dundalk in January, the Barathea five-year-old was an easy-to-back 16/1 shot here.
"I said beforehand that, with any bit of luck, I couldn't see either of them out of the first four, but it's brilliant to get one of them home in front," Martin beamed. "It's great, and this little horse deserves it. He has been unlucky – it's good to see him do himself justice."
Clements, a native of Scarva, Co Down, rode a Cheltenham Festival winner on Colin Tizzard's Oiseau De Nuit during a three-year spell in England. The 27-year-old, who started out with Martin, recently decided to give up an unequal battle with the scales, and swapped his pro licence for an amateur one on his return home in May.
"There is this and Cheltenham, what more could a fella want," he joked. "I probably went too soon on him but I was hoping he would battle if a horse came to me, and thank God he did."
Martin also won the race during his time as a jockey, recalling afterwards how he had scored on Coolcullen for Jim Bolger in 1987 at the expense of one of his employer Michael Cunningham's runners. It was a verdict that he got in the stewards' room after a rough race, something that didn't go down well with his boss of the day.
"Happy memories but it cost me my job at the time," he quipped.
"I got a year in exile, but Michael and I are great friends these days."
Dermot Weld added to his Ballybrit legend with as short-priced double courtesy of Mustajeeb and Diplomat. Mustajeeb saw off fellow 11/8 joint favourite Friendship to give the Rosewell House maestro a 23rd win in the juvenile maiden for Pat Smullen.
"It wasn't the plan to make it but he settled nicely in front," Weld said of Mustajeeb. "He is a progressive, Group class colt – I thought he would win."
For the sixth time in 10 years, Weld set the tone for the week when Diplomat ran out a ready winner of the opening Galwaybayhotel.com Novice Hurdle. Ruby Walsh rarely had a moment's worry as he brought the four-year-old home.