Mullins ends Dermot Weld’s 18-year Galway record
A record-Breaking Galway Festival saw Dermot Weld finally beaten as champion trainer as Willie Mullins beat him on a score of 58 to 54. Weld’s record had stood since 1998 when he took the title from Aidan O’Brien, winning it at every festival since to build up a solid 18- year reign.
In fact, it is only the second time that Weld has been beaten at the festival, a remarkable achievement in his 31 years attending. He was 1-5 favourite with Paddy Power to claim the title again before the week commenced. He lost on the recently introduced points-based system, at a festival which welcomed 1,200 more racegoers than last year, with 13,926 making the journey to Ballybrit this year.
Mullins recorded nine winners as he sent out 19 horses in 15 races while Weld only managed to get six winners from 34 entries, admitting afterwards that his team had not been a strong as in previous years.
Mullins sealed the win with a final day double courtesy of victories for Alelchi Inois (4-7) and Devils Bride (13-8). The pick of Mullins’ wins was his victory with Clondaw Warrior in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday, with Ruby Walsh riding, and the Kildare star picked up the title of champion jumps rider too.
Walsh’s personal highlight of the week was also his win in the Galway Hurdle, and the winning horse Clondaw Warrior is owned by a syndicate that includes his wife Gillian.
Walsh said: “We didn’t have that huge a team of horses but thankfully they were in great order and a lot of them hit the target.
“It was a dream come true to ride such a big winner for some of your closest friends – it was a great kick.”
Pat Smullen picked up the Flat jockey title with six winners, beating Declan McDonogh by one victory. Other notable wins included a Tony Martin double on Day Five (Friday) when he won the feature Guinness Handicap with Golden Spear, having won over hurdles earlier on in the day with Heartbreak City.
And Brian Ellison clinched the Irish Stallion Farms EBF ‘Ahonoora’ Handicap for the third year in a row as Dream Walker flew to get up late in the feature contest on the final day of the Galway Festival.
Money taken at the Galway Races also beat last year’s total with the Tote Betting Aggregate reaching €783,618 (£663,363), compared to last year’s €528,601 (£447,481).
General manager Michael Moloney said: “Everything has gone off very smoothly and I think people who have been at Ballybrit have enjoyed their time here.”
Bookmakers had a significant increase in turnover too, with the figure at €741,477 (£627,729) compared to €626,986 (£530,802) in 2015.