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All guns blazing for Gilligan

Fri, 03 August 2012

Paul Gilligan was left dreaming of even bigger things after Wellforth showed guts in abundance in lifting the Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap at the Galway Festival.

Fourth here on Tuesday, the nine-year-old was given a fine ride by Barry Geraghty, joining issue with the long-time prominent Noble Commander heading out on to the second circuit.

Geraghty's mount (5-1), a winner at Uttoxeter in June, landed narrowly in front after jumping the sixth-last and was nimble at the final two obstacles before striking for home and holding Agus A Vic by four and a quarter lengths, with Prince Of Leisure third.

Locally-based Gilligan said: "The weights were totally again him on Tuesday and if it had been a handicap he would have had a lot less, but it was a good run. It was always the plan to run twice.

"When he won in Uttoxeter it had nearly rained all day and I was worried about it, now he's come here, it didn't bother him at all. The owner (Clare Ellam) is from Uttoxeter and and bought him on the night he won there. I'd like to think he'd turn into an English National horse one day."

Inis Meain turned the Guinness Handicap into a procession for trainer Denis Hogan and jockey Chris Hayes. Sent off at 5-1 for the 60,000 euro event having been second on Thursday, the five-year-old was soon in the lead and really picked up when asked rounding the final bend.

The race was soon over after Hayes made his move, with the pair able to coast to a seven-length success over Shamiran. Olympiad, the 3-1 favourite, was third.

Hogan, who also won with Kalellshan for owner Liam O'Kelly on Monday, said: "That was mighty. I had a few advisers saying what was I doing running him again, so there was a bit of pressure and I was open to criticism. He'll go back hurdling and hopefully we have another few days with him."

Dermot Weld sent out newcomer Muaanid to lift the Guinness 17:59 EBF Median Auction Maiden under Pat Smullen and doubled up when Pale Mimosa took the Guinness EBF Maiden.

The trainer said of the latter: "She's a big staying mare and loves to gallop. She'll appreciate much better ground as she's a good mover. It probably wasn't the strongest contest, but all she can do is win. There is lots to look forward to and she'll probably go to the Galtres at York next."