Classy Wicklow Brave proves far too good at Galway

‘He is an extraordinary horse’

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Wicklow Brave predictably outclassed his rivals in the Rockshore Race at Galway.

A previous winner of the Punchestown Champion Hurdle and the Irish St Leger, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old appeared to have been presented with a gilt-edged opportunity to secure a 12th career victory overall and made no mistake under champion jockey Colin Keane.

The prohibitively-priced 1-6 favourite eased to the front with half a mile still to run and never looked in danger of being caught, with Keane keeping his mount up to his work in the straight to score comfortably by three and a half lengths.

Morga was a clear second, ahead of the 11-year-old Inis Meain in third.

Mullins said: “He is an extraordinary horse. We bought him as a bumper horse and he only cost 35,000 or 40,000 euro.

“To win a Punchestown Champion Hurdle and an Irish St Leger and go down to Melbourne – he is extraordinary and hardy.

“He has his own ideas about how he does things at home and we try not to have too many arguments with him and let him get on with it. It keeps him young, I’d say.

“I’d like to find something similar with him next, but I know his owner is keen to go jumping (fences) with him and for him to become the first horse to win a Group One on the Flat and a Grade One over hurdles and fences. The Drinmore (at Fairyhouse) could be an option. He jumps fences very well.

“We’ll keep him to the Flat and over hurdles in the meantime and wait until the ground gets really soft until going chasing, if he does.

“I don’t know if he’d be good enough to win an Irish St Leger at this stage, but he has an entry in it. We’re taking it day by day with him.”

Dermot Weld and Declan McDonogh combined to complete doubles on the card.

Zuenoon (13-8 favourite) was a decisive winner of the opening James’s Gate Irish EBF Median Auction Maiden, before stablemate Lure Of The Sea justified 8-11 favouritism in the Guinness Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.

Weld said: “He (Zuenoon) is a fine, big, strong colt and he did it nicely. He’s progressive and we’ll see how he comes on before making plans.”

He added of Lure Of The Sea: “The ground was not ideal for her. I think she’s got the ability to progress and be a stakes filly.”

Snugsborough Benny came home best to claim top honours in the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase.

A field of 20 went to post for the extended two-mile-six-furlong contest and Henry de Bromhead’s A Rated looked set to prevail when kicking clear before the home turn in the hands of Dylan Robinson.

However, he was running on empty as he climbed the hill to the line and the Liam Cusack-trained 5-1 joint-favourite Snugsborough Benny battled his way to the lead, emerging victorious under Denis O’Regan.

“I’m delighted for the horse – they went very quick and while he’d handle the ground it’s a bit on the dead side,” said Cusack.

“Denis gave him a lovely ride – got him into a rhythm, and he kept going forward every chance he could.

“Fair play to the horse – he’s a smashing horse – and I’m delighted to have him.

“It’s nice to get a winner in Galway and that was a very competitive race.”

The Pat Fahy-trained Dani’s Boy (16-1) made much of the running in the Arthur Guinness Handicap under Shane Foley.

The father-son combination of Tom and David Mullins landed the concluding Guinness Handicap Hurdle, with the admirable veteran Top Othe Ra (9-2) winning the race for the second year in succession.

Tom Mullins said: “I was raging that he didn’t get into the Galway Hurdle (third reserve).

“I’m thrilled to bits with this though and he’s a great little horse.”

Classy Wicklow Brave proves far too good at Galway
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