Late switch proves lucky as Kate Harrington guides Modem to win

Jockey’s mother, trainer Jessica, savours big victory in opening day highlight at Galway

Beckwith Star ridden by Adam O’Neil comes home to win the Easyfix Rubber Products Handicap Hurdle at Ballybrit. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Beckwith Star ridden by Adam O’Neil comes home to win the Easyfix Rubber Products Handicap Hurdle at Ballybrit. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Anyone doubting the importance of luck needed only look at Kate Harrington’s charmed victory on Modem in the Galway festival’s opening day highlight as she secured a coveted prize often referred to as Irish racing’s ‘amateur Derby.’

Originally scheduled to ride Kabjoy for her mother Jessica in the Connacht Hotel Handicap, Harrington switched in the last moments of final declarations to Modem who squeezed in as the last runner in the field for the €80,000 highlight after a dozen defections in the ballot.

Jessica Harrington turned to Mark Fahey to take over on Kabjoy who promptly unseated his new jockey leaving the gates but the renowned trainer’s initial frustration turned to joy as her daughter enjoyed a dream run on Modem to win by a neck from Awesome Star with the favourite Ted Veale in third.

The route now looks open for Modem to attempt a massive festival double in Thursday’s €300,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle, a double not secured in quarter of a century since Athy Spirit in 1990 and completed by just three horses in total.

Bittersweet element

“I can’t believe it’s happened and I only wish my late father was here to see it because I don’t think he’d have believed it either,” said the 25-year-old winning jockey whose father, Johnny, died last year.

“I actually rang Mum at 9.55 in the morning of the declarations to tell her Modem was getting in and she asked me if I wanted to switch.”

Her selection judgement proved spot on which can’t have been much consolation to Fahey who was left with a bloody nose after his spill from Kabjoy. But the stewards handed Harrington a ten day suspension for here use of the whip for failing to give her mount time to respond.

“That race has always been on my ‘must do’ list. I didn’t think he’d get into the race but everything happened perfectly for Kate. She was always in the right position,” said Jessica Harrington. “He looks like squeezing into the Hurdle too. He only needs one to come out, so he’ll go for the double.”

Modem was a notably well-backed 5-1 second favourite as many punters successfully teased out the impact of drying ground conditions that saw the going changed from soft to yielding on the flat track and almost good over jumps less than halfway through the card.

It certainly seemed to suit Bachasson who made it two from two for Willie Mullins since arriving from France with an emphatic defeat of Zafayan in the opening novice hurdle, a race won by the subsequent Grade One winner Mckinley in 2014.

“This fella could be better,” said Mullins. “It’s unusual for Ruby (Walsh) to pull wide and go on the outside of them all with a circuit but that’s the confidence the horse was giving him. That’s a fair performance by any horse I think.”

After Zafayan’s defeat, Dermot Weld looked like getting off the mark for the week when Defining Year led over the last in the handicap hurdle only to fade to third as the topweight Beckwith Star recorded back to back wins in the race.

It was left to the juvenile maiden for Weld followers to recoup losses as True Solitaire provided the trainer with a 23rd victory in the race. Weld is already eyeing a Group Three at Leopardstown over ‘Champions Weekend’ in September for the winner who won by almost five lengths.

“I thought he was the ideal horse for the race, a good solid colt and tough which is what you want here,” said Weld.

Longer term

Weld later doubled up in a handicap as Harasava received a vintage Pat Smullen drive to rally past the topweight Torcedor by half a length. “They looked beaten but neither man nor horse were prepared to quit!” said the trainer who also saddled Tadaany to finish runner up to the 16-1 Romiac in the seven furlong handicap.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.