The 2017 Galway Races got underway on Monday evening before a healthy attendance of 19,663, an increase of 812 patrons from last year.
Whiskey Sour, under Aubrey McMahon, ran out a clear-cut winner of the opening evening’s feature race, the €100,000 Connacht Hotel (QR) Handicap, a race confined to amateur riders.
The winner, who is owned by the jockey’s father Luke, won a maiden hurdle on his debut for trainer Willie Mullins at Tramore recently, and was a 16-1 shot to take Monday’s main prize, and back up a previous flat win two years ago at the Galway Races.
Another Mullins trained runner, Lagostovegas, travelled powerfully towards the front rounding the home turn under the trainer’s son, Patrick, with 5-1 favourite Swamp Fox his closest pursuer. Eventual winner Whiskey Sour came round the front pair with a powerful run to lead inside the final furlong of the two-mile contest to claim a two-and-three-quarter length win over the favourite.
Swamp Fox beat Lagostovegas to the runner-up spot by a head to deny Mullins a one-two, but he also saddled the fast-finishing fourth home Dígeanta, meaning the champion National Hunt trainer saddled three of the first four home.
Winning rider Aubrey McMahon, who was experiencing only his third race success, said: “Everything went so smooth. It was like a dream really. Amateurs that ride all their lives dream of winning this race. It’s great to even get a ride in a race this. To win it is brilliant and I can’t really believe it’s happened.”
The mile-and-a-half Guinness Handicap on Friday evening is now a likely target for Whiskey Sour.
Betting figures at the Ballybrit venue showed an increase on 2016, with bookmakers reporting business of €1,080,234 and the Tote €877,359.