O'Brien hat-trick keeps hope alive of first ever title three-day September meeting run off on heavy goingSeptember 14, 2012 - 7:00am
JOSEPH O’Brien and Pat Smullen have been slugging it out for the Irish flat jockeys’ title for several months now and there was no let up in their pursuit of the championship on the first day of the Galway September meeting at Ballybrit on Monday.
Between them, they landed five of the seven races on the card with O’Brien seeking a first championship, stretching his narrow lead to three after steering home a treble, including Chamonix in the featured Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes.
Having justified skimpy odds over two furlongs further at Killarney in July, O’Brien was always likely to make use of his mount’s proven stamina in this listed event and, it was no surprise, when he forced 5/2 chance Chamonix into the lead at the top of the hill
With intermittent showers having already turned the ground to heavy, the Aidan O’Brien trained Galileo gelding soon had his four rivals off the bridle and though Midnight Music, winner of the big amateur handicap at the summer festival, briefly looked a danger around the home turn, Chamonix began to forge clear on meeting the rising ground and had pulled away for a six lengths win by the line.
O’Brien had initiated his first ever treble at Ballybrit in the opening Donnelly’s of Barna Maiden when Eye Of The Storm overcame a lack of market confidence to make an impressive debut, coming home two and three quarter lengths clear of the pacesetting Pearl Of Africa.
It was local trainer Iggy Madden who supplied O’Brien with the middle leg of his hat-trick as the consistent and 3/1 favourite Cairdiuil coasted to victory in the Paschal Corrigan Memorial Handicap after kicking clear inside the two furlong pole.
Smullen, however, managed to stay in O’Brien’s slipstream thanks to a double on the evening. The six-time champion jockey got off the mark on 13/2 shot Consonance for the Fethard based yard of Joseph Murphy in the James P. Cunningham Electrical Handicap before enjoying a wide margin win on odds on chance, Three Kingdoms, in the concluding Renmore Maiden.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.