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Jack's alright after Clements' late run

By Ron McKnight

Banbridge rider Stephen Clements produced a remarkable feat by winning the first day feature at the Galway Festival, the Connacht Hotel Handicap, for the second successive year on favourite Quick Jack.

Clements and Martin combined to win the valuable two-mile contest for amateur riders 12 months ago with Edeymi and repeated the dose with this talented five-year-old.

The €70,000 qualified riders race is the amateur equivalent of the Derby and the local rider made victory look easy.

He always had the 4-1 favourite in the perfect position and improved into fourth running into the dip before kicking of the final bend to register an easy victory by three lengths.

"It's déjà vu. He's a classy horse. I only had a slight worry about the draw, but Tony had plenty of confidence in him," said Clements.

"I was just trying to keep him balanced in the closing stages after he hit the front. I was letting the hill come to me and holding onto him.

"I never had a moment's worry. I knew I had the class underneath me and had worked him last week.

"Tony had him spot on for the race and he was impressive."

Clements added that he has no regrets after returning to Ireland to ride as an amateur, having been a professional in England and registered success at the Cheltenham Festival.

Winning trainer Martin, who also supplied the fourth placed Spacious Sky, said: "It worked out well. He's a great little horse and he never lets us down."

Grecian Tiger and Fire Fighter finished second and third respectively.

Quick Jack is owned by John Breslin, a New York based businessman who enjoyed four winners at Galway last year while Martin sent out a remarkable tally of nine winners at the Festival 12 months ago.

Martin has Quick Jack lined up to run in the Galway Hurdle, but is unlikely to get in and will consider a couple of alternative options later in the week.

Wither Hills, trained in Downpatrick by Brian Hamilton, ran a fine race and was in contention until the climb up the hill.

County Tyrone trainer Andy Oliver also recorded success in Galway when Expensive Taste supplied a bold front running display to score with Chris Hayes aboard in Clayton Galway Hotel Handicap.

The Caledon-based handler said: "I am very happy with him, he was a horse we thought a bit of last year.

"We found he had a wind problem over the winter and had that corrected. He's in again on Friday night, but we will see how he is between now and then."

Jamaica had earlier ended Dermot Weld's dominance in the EBF Maiden when he landed a sizeable punt for the Ballydoyle operation.

The Galileo colt was backed into 4-9 favouritism and was not too hard pressed in landing the odds.

Joseph O'Brien's partner was fourth behind Vocaliser for much of the race, but he took closer order three furlongs out before gaining a slight lead at the top of the straight.

Jamaica responded gamely to his rider's urgings by haring three and a quarter lengths clear of Weld's runner, Postulation, whose trainer had won this race five times in the last six years.

Bookmakers Racebets were suitably impressed, with Jamaica cut to 25-1 for the 2015 Epsom Derby.

Willie Mullins had earlier got off to a fine start to the meeting when Mckinley claimed the opening & Novice Hurdle.

Given an astute ride by Paul Townend, the 7-1 chance was driven home along the stands side to defeat Ridestan by two and a quarter lengths.

Belfast Telegraph


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