With the dust settled on a great 2016 Galway Festival we’ve taken a look back at some of the highlights and Tote payouts and pools over the seven days in the West.
Monday – Racing Gets Underway
The opening day of the Festival proved a memorable one for the Madden family as Shake The Bucket won the EasyFix Handicap Hurdle on his 73rd start. Trained by Niall Madden, ridden by his son Niall and owned by his daughter Sarah Ann, the nine year old came home in front of Lord De Beaufai and Camlann. It was also memorable for some lucky punters as the successful Tote Trifecta paid out a lucrative €4231.70 for a €1 stake.
Swamp Fox and Barry Browne took the honours in the feature race of the day, the Connacht Hotel Handicap. Barry Browne lost 6lb in one day to make the weight on the joint-bottom weight and his efforts were made worth-while as the Joe Murphy trained gelding stormed to victory by two and a half lengths from the staying on Ted Veale and Benkei back in third. It served a good day for Tote Trifecta backers as the payout was €4559.90 in the feature.
Tuesday – Eziyra – A Win For The Favourite
Day two of the festival proved a memorable one for jockey Declan McDonagh as he notched up a double including landing the feature race of the day, the Colm Quinn BMW Premier Handicap. Creggs Pipe made it a fourth consecutive win when taking the spoils in the featured race. Andy Slattery’s charge was an all the way winner and followed up her Listed success at Killarney last time in impressive style from the English raider Top Notch Tonto. McDonagh was also on-board half an hour later when Beau Satchel landed the Caulfield Industrial Handicap for a second year running.
Pat Smullen and Dermot Weld were also in the winner’s enclosure twice within an hour. Eziyra justified favouritism in the Colm Quinn BMW fillies maiden to provide the duo with their first win of the day and second of the festival. Sikandarabad completed the double for Weld and Smullen thirty five minutes later in the Caulfield Industrial EBF Maiden.
Wednesday – Lord Scoundrel Takes The 2016 Tote Galway Plate
The feature race on Wednesday was the €220,000 thetote.com Galway Plate. This year it was Donagh Myler and Lord Scoundrel who came out the victors in what was a thrilling finish, providing Gigginstown with a second win in three years in the famous race. It also gave Gold Cup winning trainer Gordon Elliot his first win in the race, and was twenty year old Donagh Meyler’s first ride for the winning trainer.
Willie Mullins’ front-running Ballycasey led a group of six horses into the home straight, amongst them his stablemates Alelchi Inois and Devils Bride. With only a furlong to go, that group of horses were still battling it out in a close fought finish for the big prize. In the end, however, Lord Scoundrel edged ahead under his young rider to win by a length and a half from last year’s sixth placed horse Alelchi Inois. It was most certainly a contest between the leading trainers as Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot had among them the first six horses home. Tote Trifecta backers who predicted the correct result received €2872.80 for their €1 stake.
Shane Foley had a day to remember as he passed the post on front on two occasions. The Adrian Keatley trained Millefiori provided Foley with the first leg of his double when landing TheTote.com Handicap by a neck from the Iggy Madden trained Cairdiuil. Foley’s second success of the day came in TheTote.com Maiden with Katiymann for Kildare trainer Michael Halford.
Wednesday saw neither the Tote Pick 6 nor Jackpot claimed, rolling some big prize pools into Thursday.
Thursday – Ruby Walsh The Lady’s Day Highlight
With the fashion stakes high on Ladies Day on Thursday at Ballybrit it was Ruby Walsh who was stealing the spotlight in grey and pink silks. The Willie Mullins trained Clondaw Warrior landed the feature race on the card the Guinness Galway Hurdle providing Walsh with his first victory in the €300,000 race. The Royal Ascot runner-up, owned by Act D Wagg Syndicate which includes the winning rider’s wife, was produced to challenge at the last and stuck on gamely to win by half a length from Hidden Cyclone.
Planchart provided Tipperary trainer Andrew Slattery with yet another big race success when winning the listed Fillies Stakes under Declan McDonagh. The duo overturned the 5/2 favourite Rayisa by ½ length.
A stalls malfunction that led to a flag start in Hop House 13 Handicap proved to be efficient for those who chose Total Demolition, Marshall Jennings and Dream Walker to be first, second and third with that Trifecta paying out €3793.70.
By the time Race 3 got off the Tote Jackpot had climbed to well over €400,000 making for a record pool with the result that punters received €1780.40 for their €1 stake. Once again the Pick 6 wasn’t won with another Rollover going into Friday.
Friday – A Record Pool & (Almost) A Big Day For The Tote Rewards Syndicate
Tony Martin registered a double on the fifth day of the festival, including taking the featured Guinness Handicap. Golden Spear, who was second to Clondaw Warrior in the same race 12 months ago, came back from a 278 day break to take the feature handicap under the capable Leigh Roche. Martin also won the opener of the day with Heartbreak City under Galway Plate winning jockey Donagh Meyler.
The Guinness Galway Blazers went to On Fiddlers Green in the hands of Davy Russell. The Henry De Bromhead trained son of Stowaway won comfortable in the end, beating Aranhill Chief by seven lengths.
Willie Mullins continued his successful week when Ivan Grozny won the Guinness race providing Declan McDonagh with his fourth win of the Festival.
It was an historic day for the Tote Pick 6 with the Pool reaching an unprecedented €727,000+ leading to a dividend of €15,908.40 (on €1) for successful stakers. There was even greater excitement in the Tote office as our Tote Rewards Syndicate bet made it through the first 5 legs and looked like it was about to scoop a huge prize for our customers. Unfortunately, the Syndicate selection fell just short and missed out on the big prize in in Race 6. Disappointed as we were, it was great to have the excitement of such a big pool which paid out handsomely to those who made the correct selections.
Saturday – Dermot Weld & Willie Mullins
As the contest for leading trainer heated up between Dermot Weld and Willie Mullins, Saturday’s racing was an important one for both trainers. Mullins’ quest for victory was aided when Westerner Lady took the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle under Ruby Walsh. Mullins got another winner on the board when the well supported Queen Deirdre was no match for her opponents in the Terry Cunningham Memorial EBF Mare’s Flat race. Mullins didn’t have it all his own way, however, as Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen produced Firey Speech to win the An Pucan EBF Nursery by two lengths.
Trainer Denis Hogan landed a 116/1 gamble with Jack The Wire and Tithonus. Jack The Wire who was ridden by the trainer took the opener by three parts of a length from Cairdiuil. The second leg of the double came in the Ladbrokes Red Day Handicap when Tithonus won in the hands of Gary Halpin. Tote Jackpot selections including this horse along with Firey Speech, Queen Deirdre and Striking Gold paid out a massive €4,225.20.
Sunday – Alelchi Inois Wins The Final Feature
TheTote.com Galway Plate runners up, Alelchi Inois and Clarcam were in action again on the final day at Ballybrit. Alelchi Inois who was second in the feature race on Wednesday was heavily supported and he justified this beating Clarcam into second by thirty two lengths. The win capped off a successful week for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullin. Walsh was the leading national hunt jockey at the festival with seven winners, while Pat Smullen was the leading flat jockey with six winners. Willie Mullins finished up the leading trainer at the festival, the first time since 1997 that someone other than Dermot Weld has won it. The Tote Pick 6 was guaranteed for €100,000 on each of the seven days and the final day of the festival saw a substantial €13,778.50 payout on the bet.