Baraweez defends Ahonoora handicap title in Galway

British raiders dominate feature event on final day at Ballybrit

Baraweez ridden by Donnacha O’Brien (orange silks) beats Pintura (left) to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap during the final day of the  Galway Festival at  Ballybrit. Photograph:  PA

Baraweez ridden by Donnacha O’Brien (orange silks) beats Pintura (left) to win the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Ahonoora Handicap during the final day of the Galway Festival at Ballybrit. Photograph: PA

 

Baraweez landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Ahonoora” Handicap for the second successive year as British raiders dominated the feature event on the final day of the Galway Festival.

Brian Ellison’s charge was the 7-4 favourite to repeat his Ballybrit triumph of 12 months ago, having been placed in the Topaz Mile, also for the second time, on Tuesday.

With Donnacha O’Brien keeping the ride, Baraweez was settled against the rail, before switching wide to mount his challenge rounding the home turn.

The Alistair Whillans-trained Scottish challenger Pintura, another horse with previous form at the track when previously with Kevin Ryan, set sail for home in the straight, but Baraweez reeled him in and got up by a neck.

Ellison said: “It’s horses for courses. We’ve had a hard week with him. He’d a bruised foot and was lame all week but my staff have done a great job and the vet here was also a great help.

“He only came sound this morning and if the race was yesterday he wouldn’t have run. The lad cantered him two furlongs this morning and he was fine afterwards.

“This course probably suits him because he travels well, although the ground was a bit soft for him today. He was very game, and the kid (Donnacha O’Brien) gave him a great ride.

“He’ll come back for the race he won at Leopardstown in September, and back here again next year hopefully.

“We love coming here as they do a great job and everyone is so friendly.”

Dollar And Dream provided Tony Martin with another Galway winner in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

Having finished third in similar events at Tipperary and Limerick in the spring, the six-year-old was the 7-2 favourite for the opening contest.

Leading conditional Shane Shortall was happy to play the waiting game and Dollar And Dream remained nearer last than first jumping the second flight from the finish.

However, he began to motor before the home bend to move into contention and knuckled down well from the last to get up and beat Afatcat by three and a half lengths.

Martin said: “He needs to be ridden with confidence. Shane was very good on him – that was a Ruby Walsh or Paul Carberry job.

“That’s the track for him, going up the hill and they are coming back to him. On quicker ground they don’t come back to you. He’s a chaser in the making.”

Slygufftou finished powerfully to land the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle in the hands of Luke Dempsey.

Michael McCullagh’s charge was turning out just nine days after opening his account under rules at the 11th attempt at Wexford and was a 16-1 shot for this more competitive heat.

The grey was never too far off the speed, but looked booked for minor honours as Harangue and Medinah Gold began to draw clear from the second last.

However, Medinah Gold was slow at the final obstacle and with Harangue beginning to tie up, Slygufftou stuck on admirably to come through and win by a length and three-quarters.

McCullagh said: “This horse has given me a hard time at home but I forgive him all now. I was saying beforehand that I should have waited for Roscommon (on Tuesday).

“I told young Dempsey to wait and wait and he did exactly as he was told.”

Rebel Fitz had to make do with the runner-up spot on his return to action as Cailin Annamh took gold in the At The Races Chase.

Despite having been off the track since last October, the Mick Winters-trained Rebel Fitz was unsurprisingly all the rage to make a successful comeback as the 9-10 favourite.

For much of the two-and-three-quarter-mile journey everything appeared to be going to plan, with the 18-times winner showing all of his old exuberance and it looked a case of how far he would win by when he began to stretch clear from the second last.

However, the lack of a recent run began to tell up the punishing hill and Cailin Annamh, who had earlier made the running, came back at the market leader and got up by two and three-quarter lengths. Colour Squadron was back in third.

Winning trainer Jessica Harrington said: “She had a wind operation and that’s why she was so long coming back. I put the tongue-tie back on today and a pair of blinkers as she was not doing a thing in Killarney.

“She made just one mistake at the open ditch and it was a mistake. It was a brilliant ride by Robbie (Power) and I knew she would stay going on the run-in.

“I don’t know what the handicapper will do to her.”

Winters was not too disappointed with the effort of the runner-up.

He said: “It was a super run and he jumped like a buck. It’s a long run up the hill and the lack of a run just told on him.

“The plan is the Slan Abhaile (at Listowel), and he may go for the Cesarewitch after that.”

Henry de Bromhead’s excellent week continued as Bally Longford edged ahead in a thrilling Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase.

The 8-1 shot looked set to win decisively when hitting the front under Barry Geraghty, but Un Beau Roman came back tenaciously.

In the end, though, Bally Longford won the argument by a length.

Miracle jockey Brian Toomey had his first ride over fences since his much publicised fall at Perth two years ago, but pulled up Phil Kirby’s British challenger Kings Grey.

Geraghty said: “The ground wasn’t that bad I’d say. He jumped well and battled well. I thought when I went past Ruby that’s the last I’ll see of you, but he stayed at it well and I thought I was in trouble. My lad just kept finding a little bit more.”

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