Galway Plate full of riches
Overdue first win in Galway Plate for Noel Meade
Noel Meade may have had to wait a while but his first win in the thetote.com Galway Plate was worth every last second as he saddled Road To Riches to become one of the most impressive winners of the race in recent times.
Jumping from fence to fence in front after 22-year-old conditional jockey Shane Shortall took up the running at the third fence, Road To Riches always looked the winner once the field had got over the last in one of Ireland's most prestigious handicap chases.
Meade has enjoyed much success at Galway in his illustrious career and was unsurpisingly overjoyed to gain his first win in the Galway Plate although he did admit to having a light worrying moment when the horses were coming up the straight.
"The strangest things go through your mind," Meade laughed. "I was sitting in front of Willie Mullins for the race and when they were coming up the straight Willie gave me a slap on the back and just for a moment I wondered to myself if I had put on the lead-bag at all!"
It was also a first win in the race for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud and the winning trainer credited O'Leary's brother and racing manager Eddie with the foresight to tackle the Plate.
Meade explained: "After he ran second in Punchestown Eddie suggested that he might be the right horse for the Plate and when the entries came out I was a bit surprised as I thought he would have top weight.
"I think fast ground is the key to him and he jumped brilliant. He went a good gallop on him but he always looked comfortable as with his jumping he was always able to give himself a chance."
Shortall was completing a dream double having already won on the Tony Martin trained Greatness earlier on the card and nabbing Tony McCoy in the process and he admitted after the Plate; "Words cannot describe this - it hasn't hit me yet.
Based with Martin in Meath he added: "I was happy just to have a ride in Galway and the winner earlier made my day but this is a dream come through."
Shortall's delight came to the misfortune of fellow weighroom colleague Ger Fox who was booked to ride Road To Riches until breaking his collarbone in a fall at Wexford just last Friday.
"Ger was booked to ride him but I suppose that's racing," Meade said. "Shane has an old head on young shoulders and I spoke to Tony Martin about him the other day - when I got off the phone I knew I had the right lad."
He concluded; "It's the only big race here I hadn't wn and I was second in it three or four times so I'm absolutely thrilled as winning a Plate is something you always want to do."
Greatness had supplied Shortall with the first leg of his brace in the Download The Tote Jackpot Guarantee Handicap Hurdle as the rider stayed cool to regather momentum after stumbling after the second last.
Martin said: "He was lucky at the second last and we had a little bit of fortune there as he just seemed to stumble or clip heels.
"Shane is serious value for his 7lb claim and we are not going to have it much longer so we said we would make the most of it."
Reflecting on Quick Jack's win on Monday night he said: "I'm happy with him but he won't run again this week and we'll take our time and maybe look at something like the Cesarewitch or the Ebor."
Despite being overturned in the opening race with Tandem, Dermot Weld still enjoyed a double on the card which was instigated when Whitey O'Gwaun opened his account in the mile and a half amateur riders maiden providing Finny Maguire with a dream start to his career.
The 16-year-old son of former jockey Adrian made his first ride a winning one for Weld and the trainer was suitably impressed.
"His father Adrian rode a Galway Plate winner for me on General Idea and Whitey is a small horse so I was keen to claim and I had observed the rider and he is a good kid," Weld said.
"He is exceptionally nice for a young man and I was impressed by his professionalism before the race."
Weld completed the double in the concluding maiden over an extended mile as the 4/9 favourite Brooch, in the colours of Prince Khalid Abdullah sent favourite backers home happy once again.
"She is a lovely filly," Weld said of the debutant. "She is big and backward and has just taken time. Patience will pay dividends.
"Hopefully she will make into a stakes filly and I think she will stay a mile and a quarter in time. She is quite immature and she won't run often this year but I will try and get some black-type before the end of the season."
Willie Mullins took the opening contest when Most Peculiar impressed under Paul Townend beating Draco and Tandem, while Mullins' promising conditional jockey Johnny Burke enjoyed his first Galway Festival success when guiding Liz Doyle's Cacheofgold to the mares handicap hurdle.
Sophie's World was also a first winner at the meeting for Naas teenager Sean Corby, and a local winner was enjoyed by Iggy Madden as his Cairdiuil won the mile handicap with Wayne Lordan.
There was a good end to the day as news came back that Sarah Lynam suffered no serious injuries following her fall in the amateur maiden.