Missunited takes the spoils in Galway
Mick Winters strikes for the second year in Galway Hurdle
The runners and riders pass the grandstand in the Beginners Steeplechase at Galway. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
The genial Co Cork handler landed a gamble 12 months ago with stable star Rebel Fitz, successful over fences earlier on the card, and this year’s challenger was a leading contender at 7-1.
Following heavy rain throughout the day, conditions at the Ballybrit circuit had turned extremely testing.
Never too far off the pace, the six-year-old scooted clear from the home turn and safely negotiated the final flight to secure victory by three and three-quarters of a length.
Flaxen Flare filled the runner-up spot ahead of Make Your Mark and Drive Time, who finished third and fourth respectively.
Earlier, Dermot Weld secured his sixth winner of the meeting as Yellow Rosebud annihilated her rivals in the Listed Guinness EBF Corrib Fillies Stakes.
The even-money favourite was smartly away in the hands of Pat Smullen and quickly dictated affairs from the front.
She was the only one left on the bridle rounding the home turn and powered clear in the straight to score by two and three-quarter lengths from the staying-on Snow Queen.
Sendmylovetose, who won twice in Pattern company as a juvenile, showed up well for a long way on her belated reappearance before weakening.
Weld said: “We were pretty confident as she’s a very classy and adaptable filly.
“We might travel with her with options in the US.”
David Marnane’s admirable veteran Maundy Money clinched his third Festival win — five years on from his previous two triumphs — with a comfortable success in the Guinness Time Handicap.
The 10-year-old appears to have discovered a new lease of life in recent weeks and was a 5-1 joint-favourite to secure a third successive win.
Always travelling powerfully under leading conditional Connor King, Maundy Money claimed the front-running Parkers Mill rounding the home bend and powered further clear in the straight to score by four lengths.
Marnane said: “He’s a legend of a horse. We bought him out of Mark Johnston’s yard for €4,500 and he’s won at three Galway Festivals now, two Listowel Festivals and two Killarney Festivals.
“He’s won 10 races, he’s 10 years of age and he’s as fresh as paint.
“I’ve been looking to retire him for about a year and a half now, but while he keeps running good races you can’t.
“If you had a horse at home that could work with him, you’ve got a fair horse.”
Last year’s Hurdle hero Rebel Fitz (10-11 favourite) completed a hat-trick over fences in the Novice Chase.
Winters’ stable star tracked Changing The Guard and Sizing Italy into the straight and while he was briefly squeezed to go between that pair, he was soon back on the bridle under Barry Geraghty.
Rebel Fitz steadily eased clear towards the stands’ side to come home with three and three-quarter lengths in hand over Sizing Italy.
And Golden Wonder made a winning debut over fences in an attritional Perfect Pint Beginners Chase at Galway.
Refused A Name put up a bold bid from the front, but his huge advantage was quickly eroded half a mile from home, with Spring Heeled, Raajih and Golden Wonder the only three in contention from the home turn.
Odds-on favourite Spring Heeled did his best to shake off the attentions of his pursuers, but the Dessie Hughes-trained Golden Wonder (5-1) dug deep for Roger Loughran to get up and score by three and a half lengths.
Hughes said: “You don’t mind (the weather) when you have a winner.
“He’s a right horse. He won on good ground in Bellewstown and I thought he’d struggle on this ground.
“It’s great to see him handle it because he’s going to be going to be needing to handle it for the rest of the winter now.”