Tudor City the toast of the town in Galway

Robbie Power times challenge to perfection at Ballybrit

Tudor City secured a thrilling Guinness Galway Hurdle success on Thursday to give his trainer Tony Martin a timely big race boost.

Martin's fortunes had dipped since saddling back-to-back winners of Ireland's richest handicap hurdle with Thomas Edison (2014) and Quick Jack in 2015.

The man renowned for years as a ‘handicap king’ had just seven winners in the last Irish jumps season, featuring among those struggling to compete against National Hunt racing’s powerhouse operations.

Anibale Fly did come agonisingly close to Gold Cup glory at Cheltenham in March but in the Galway summer sunshine it was Tudor City that made no mistake.


Robbie Power, who won the race in 2013 on Missunited, produced a master class on the 10-1 winner to navigate a route through much of the field in an unusual slowly-run renewal.

Michael O’Leary’s front-running 33-1 outsider Due Reward took advantage of his own tempo to quicken out of the dip.

JP McManus’s 9-2 joint-favourite Band Of Outlaws briefly looked like overhauling him but both were trumped by Power’s daring final thrust between the pair. Tudor City eventually won by half a length.

It was another Galway Hurdle for Tudor City's owner, New York based businessman John Breslin who also owned Quick Jack.

He and Martin have been friends for decades and the trainer’s illustrious history of success was underlined by how Tudor City is a son of his 1999 English Cambridgeshire heroine, She’s Our Mare.

“His mother was a short runner and barely got two miles. He was likewise until this year but he’s come of age this year and is finishing out his races,” Martin said.

“We’ve had a few lean years and things weren’t the best. But him winning, and Anibale Fly finishing second in the Gold Cup, are the days you work for.

“We wouldn’t have the horses we’ve had in the past but we’ve a few nice ones and some right good owners who’re loyal and they’re keeping us going,” he added.

With the iron having been cold for so long, Martin didn’t rule out Tudor City trying to strike while it’s hot in Friday evening’s big flat handicap.

“You wouldn’t know what we might do. We’ll see how he is in the morning. He’ll go home as we’re two hours away and he’d be better off in his own surroundings,” Martin said.

Shanning did best of Willie Mullins’s big-race runners in seventh but the champion trainer was in dominant form otherwise. A day four hat-trick brought his tally for the week so far to seven.

Classic winners have run at Galway in the past but not after they've won their Group One. So more evidence of Wicklow Brave's singularity came when the 2016 Irish Leger hero made it two from two over fences in the novice chase.

The evens favourite's task was eased with the withdrawal of both Zero Ten and Moon Over Germany while his stable companion Robin De Carlow was pulled up with an overreach after the first.

However, the 10-year-old novice jumped notably well and Mullins has a notable objective with a horse that’s also won at Grade One level over hurdles.

“He’s unique and has won bumpers, on the flat, over hurdles and chases. Nick (Peacock- owner) said he’d love to win a Grade One chase so the obvious thing is the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in early December,” Mullins said.

The champion trainer’s summer was interrupted by what he described as a “short illness” but both he and his mammoth string appear to be back in the pink.

Dandy Mag made a winning debut over fences in the opener while Foveros and Little Nugget gave Mullins a 1-2 in the novice hurdle.

"When I was laid up there a few weeks ago, between Patrick (Mullins,) David Casey, Ruby (Walsh,) I just said to put a team together for Galway so obviously they did something right!" he said.

Michael Halford modestly claimed that Surrounding virtually trains herself after the six year old mare confirmed she's in the form of her life with success in the Listed Corrib Stakes.

Carrying a 5lb penalty for having won a Group Three on her previous start proved no problem to the 2-1 winner who had half a length in hand of Titanium Sky at the line.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column