Ash Tree Meadow put up a brilliant performance from the front to lift the Tote Galway Plate.
Fourth in the Ballybrit feature 12 months ago, Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old was given a superb ride by Danny Gilligan, who had the company of the loose Andy Dufresne to deal with at times after he departed at the very first fence.
Willie Mullins’ Authorized Art looked a big threat under Danny Mullins after jumping the last, but Gilligan, who is just 17 and only returned from injury last week, kept his cool and his mount was quickly on top again before being kept up to his work on the way to recording a two-and-a-half-length success at 13-2.
Another Elliott runner, Hollow Games, took third, with Joseph O’Brien’s A Wave Of The Sea in fourth. Last year’s winner Hewick showed up well for a long way before his big weight began to tell approaching the business end of the contest.
Elliott said: “This race has been the plan since last year.
“Eamon and Robbie (Waters, owners) have given great support. In horses you have good and bad days, but I’m so lucky with the bunch of owners I have, the staff I have and horses I have. I’m very lucky and without these people I can’t do it. They give me the horses and I can’t thank them enough.
“We kept Danny’s claim, he was injured and this has been the plan with him. We said we’d mind him for this, we’re delighted.
“It’s great for Eamon, he’s getting a little bit too much into the Flat racing, but after winning the Galway Plate we might get him into a few more jumpers.”
Eamon Waters added: “Every owner here today was trying to win it and owners put an awful lot into the sport, but you need the trainer, the jockey and so many things. It clicks an odd time and it’s great.
“I’ve known Gordon for years, from hunting with the Ward Union, we are all friends. It’s plenty of laughter and plenty of rows, but ultimately he’s a great guy, he keeps performing and he’s done it again.”