The ‘King of Galway’ reigned supreme on Day 1
By JIM CARNEY
AT the time of writing (Tuesday afternoon), one day’s racing at Ballybrit is all we can review but one day was enough for the maestro Dermot Weld, affectionately known in the racing game as the King of Galway, to show us there’s nobody looming up on the outside to steal his crown.
An expert producer of successful Flat and National Hunt horses, the 64-year-old Curragh man — it was his birthday last Sunday — is still turning out top-class winners into his fifth decade of training at Rosewell House, Co. Kildare. Back at Ballybrit on Monday, he saddled the winners of three of the seven races on the opening day’s card including the feature race, the €70,000 Carlton Hotel Galway City (Q.R.) Handicap, ridden by Jane Mangan for owner Lady O’Reilly and returned at a surprisingly generous price, 11/1.
Dermot Weld also saddled the winner of the opening novices’ hurdle, Train Of Thought, 9/4, ridden by Ruby Walsh, while the gelding Thunder Mountain, ridden by stable jockey Pat Smullen, was a 3/1 winner in a race with an Aidan O’Brien-trained odds-on favourite. Ballydoyle’s Line Drummer had trouble negotiating one of the Ballybrit bends and Pat Smullen pounced to score in this maiden race.
A Weld odds-on favourite, Silver Concorde, was runner-up in the Bumper behind the Jim Bolger-trained 5-2 winner Cúl Báire, ridden by Patrick Mullins.
Other winners on Monday were Denis Hogan’s Kalellshan in the Handicap Hurdle; Kane’s Pass, a 14-1 winner of a Handicap for young jockey Ronan Whelan and trainer Willie McCreery who played at midfield for Kildare footballers in the 1998 All-Ireland final against Galway, and the Michael Halford-trained Handicap winner Sure Reef, ridden by Shane Foley.
Last evening (Tuesday) the big race was the Topaz Mile EBF Handicap and today (Weds.) all is set for the centrepiece of the great Ballybrit Summer Festival of Racing, the €200,000 Tote Ireland Galway Plate.
Tomorrow (Thursday) is Ladies Day and a huge crowd is expected, as always; the big event out on the track is the €260,000 Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle, the richest National Hunt race to be run in Ireland this year.
Racing continues daily until Sunday and although the weather isn’t promised to be as kind as it was on Monday for an attendance of 17,710 it’s likely that the target for the week, 150,000, will be reached.
Monday was up 140 racegoers on last year’s opening day attendance — that’s how to beat the recession!