Quick Jack gives Tony Martin and Steven Clements consecutive victories in Galway feature
4/1 favourite shows a neat burst of pace inside final 150yds to win by three lengths
Amateur Steven Clements drives Quick Jack clear to land the featured Connacht Hotel (QR) Handicap on the opening day of the Galway Festival last night. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Dermot Weld’s statistical record at Galway may be unsurpassable but Tony Martin’s rising status as a new festival “banker” option for punters got embellished once again when Quick Jack proved an irresistible favourite in last evening’s day-one Ballybrit feature.
Martin’s eight winners at the 2013 festival pushed Weld for the leading trainer award in a way the legendary trainer is hardly used to and unusually for a 20-runner Connacht Hotel Handicap, there was barely a moment’s anxiety for confident punters who piled into Quick Jack yesterday.
Steven Clements won the top amateur jockeys’ prize for Martin on Edeymi last year but Quick Jack looked at another level again, the 4/1 winner cruising through the race and dashing past Weld’s Grecian Tiger early in the straight.
Owner John Breslin’s colours were carried to four victories at last year’s festival and although Quick Jack is unlikely to get into Thursday’s Galway Hurdle, Friday night’s €100,000 Guinness Handicap over a mile and a half is another option for the classy chestnut.
‘Done his job’However Martin, who also saddled the unlucky-in-running fourth Spacious Sky, stressed: “He’s done his job now so there’s no pressure on him. We said we’d put him away for this. He was on a nice mark after his Leopardstown November Handicap run.
“He has kept improving. We will wait and see how he is on Thursday morning and I suppose there is a chance he could run on Friday.”
After Edeymi last year, Clements described Quick Jack’s win as a “déjà vu” moment and added: “Tony had plenty of confidence about him and when I worked him earlier in the week I knew he was spot on.
“I knew I had the class under me. I was trying to hold on to him.”
It wasn’t all rosy for Martin supporters, however, as Artful Artist started a 7/4 favourite for an earlier handicap hurdle and never landed a blow behind the Henry De Bromhead-trained 12/1 winner Beckwith Star. A veterinary examination afterwards found Artful Artist to be “blowing”.
Overall it was a mixed bag for festival punters on the first day of the festival. The opening novice hurdle had looked like shaping into a potential clash between the Weld favourite Manhattan Swing and the well-backed JP McManus hope Henry Higgins.
Never threatenedThe latter had arrived at the track only to then start coughing, winding up a non-runner, while Manhattan Swing never threatened to land a blow as Willie Mullins’s 7/1 shot Mckinley overcame a drift across the track to score for Paul Townend.
“I thought it was a hot race so I’m very happy with that. His jumping is improving and he’s getting more confidence. He handled the ground well and will keep novice hurdling,” the champion jumps trainer said.
There appeared to be no confidence at all in Weld’s chances of winning the juvenile maiden for a 24th time, and so it proved as Postulation never shaped like overhauling the Ballydoyle favourite Jamaica who booked a possible place in the Group Two Futurity at the Curragh next month.
“He’s a horse with a lovely rhythm and a lovely nature and he learned plenty from his first run,” said Aidan O’Brien. “It’s beautiful ground here, a credit to everyone.”
Weld backers took another blow in the seven furlong handicap as the 7/4 favourite Bobby’s Heart found disappointingly little from the front when challenged on the turn-in by Expensive Taste but normal service was resumed for Rosewell House when Timiyan ground out a game win in the mile and a half handicap.