Galway glory again for Ellison
Last year's winner Dream Walker saw off stable companion Baraweez to provide trainer Brian Ellison with a fourth successive victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF 'Ahonoora' Handicap on the final day of the Galway Festival.
Baraweez claimed back-to-back renewals of the 100,000 euro prize in 2014 and 2015 and was fifth behind Dream Walker 12 months ago.
Both horses came into the seven-furlong contest in good form once again, with Dream Walker having been third and Baraweez sixth in Tuesday's BMW Mile.
Tithonus, winner of both the Rockingham Handicap and the Scurry Handicap at the Curragh last month, led the field into the home straight, but he was soon swamped.
Ellison's Be Kool hit the front in the final furlong, but he was claimed by his two stablemates in the dying strides and it was 7-1 shot Dream Walker who claimed top honours under a jubilant Chris Hayes.
Baraweez was just half a length away in second, with Be Kool rounding off a remarkable one-two-three for the North Yorkshire-based trainer.
Canary Row was best of the Irish in fourth, just ahead of the BMW Mile winner and 9-4 favourite Riven Light, who encountered traffic problems during his bid to complete the big-race double.
Ellison said: "Dream Walker just seems to come alive here. To come from last like he did is unreal.
"I honestly thought on better ground Baraweez would win, but probably the ground just found him out.
"It's great for Baraweez to come back here four years in a row and Dream Walker has now won it two years in a row. It's a matter of keeping them right and keeping their heads right.
"Dream Walker has run three or four times this year and never lifted a leg, but when he comes into form he's great. He obviously loves it here."
He added: "It'll wreck my head thinking about what to do next year!
"I think Baraweez will come back for the race on Irish Champions Weekend he won three years ago, and ideally on good ground he'll be a better horse."
Arbre De Vie reversed Galway Plate form with stablemate Shaneshill to land the At The Races Chase.
Shaneshill had filled the runner-up spot in Wednesday's feature event, with Arbre De Vie back in sixth place.
With Ruby Walsh unsurprisingly having stuck with Shaneshill, he was the 4-9 favourite to go one better, with Arbre De Vie 9-4 in the hands of Paul Townend.
Shaneshill cut out much of the running until making a bad blunder five fences from the finish, with Walsh doing miraculously well to keep the partnership intact.
The market leader managed to get back on an even keel, but Arbre De Vie was travelling much the better of the pair rounding the home turn and was pushed out hands and heels by Townend to prevail by six lengths.
Mullins said: "That's a nice race for Arbre De Vie to open his account over fences. He will probably go down the novice route and I'd imagine that Shaneshill will go for the Kerry National.
"Ruby did very well to stay on board Shaneshill, and it was a fair performance by rider and the horse not to fall. He was probably a shade unlucky not to win."
Mullins and Walsh had earlier teamed up to land the Kenny Galway Handicap Hurdle with Ben Button.
The seven-year-old was beaten at odds-on on his first start for the champion trainer at Downpatrick last month, but showed his true colours in this three-mile contest, impressively pulling 12 lengths clear of runner-up Tulsa Jack.
Walsh said: "He handled the ground. He's a horse that handles winter ground and against summer horses he was at an advantage.
"The ground was too quick at Downpatrick last time."
Seamus Fahey became the third member of his family to saddle a winner at this year's festival after 14-1 shot The Informer landed the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle under 3lb claimer Eoin O'Connell.
The Kildare-based trainer is a brother of Peter and Paul Fahey, who have both been in the winner's circle at Ballybrit this week.
He said: "It's nice to get a winner in Galway. We've had the great week the lot of us.
"We all help each other, but we do our own thing.
"I told the owner to have a few quid on this horse this morning.
"He's in a chase and a hurdle at Sligo this week, but it depends on how he comes out of this."
Dermot Weld was not as prolific as usual this week but trained his second winner in as many days as Yulong Gold Fairy (5-1) won the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Maiden in the hands of Leigh Roche.
Jessica Harrington's Neverushacon was a 12-1 winner of the Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase, with Ryan Treacy doing the steering, while Tony Martin bagged a first success in the penultimate race through the Colin Keane-ridden Dara Tango in the JPK Fencing Handicap.
Martin said: "He was broken down and off for three years, but had a lovely run back at Leopardstown.
"It's great for the owners who are long-time patrons of mine. There are 55 of them over from America for a family reunion, and I'm delighted that he's won after the way the week has gone.
"They deserve that after losing Heartbreak City."
The meeting came to a close when the Mullins-trained Ainsi Va La Vie maintained her unbeaten record in the hands of Patrick Mullins, taking the Fr. Breen Memorial (Pro-Am) Flat Race as the 4-7 favourite.
The win was Mullins' 12th of the week, making him top trainer.
Leave us a comment!
Share this story:
Subscribe to our Newsletter today to receive Free Horse Racing Tips.
Simply fill out the form below and wait for the Free Tips to land in your inbox.