There was drama on day two of the Galway Festival after a Jessica Harrington-trained winner was disqualified following an identity mix-up.
Newcomer Alizarine ran out a cosy winner Colm Quinn BMW Irish Fillies Maiden, producing a fine burst of acceleration to see off 5-4 favourite Twinkle by a length and three-quarters in second.
However, around 25 minutes after the race, an objection was lodged into the identity of Alizarine, with the stewards eventually awarding the race to Twinkle. A Harrington-trained runner later on the card, the three-year-old Aurora Princess, was subsequently withdrawn by order of the stewards.
Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board spokesman Niall Cronin said in a statement: “All horses are checked on arrival. Alizarine is in Galway, she arrived here with the rest of Mrs Harrington’s runners, Aurora Princess also being one of them.
“Mrs Harrington didn’t saddle the runners for that race herself but subsequently has accepted full responsibility for what has happened.
“In the inquiry itself she expressed the similarity between the two fillies. I think she referred to them as being almost identical, she may have even said that they were like twins.
“When the winner of race two arrived back to be checked again by the IHRB officials, prior to the winner alright being announced, the filly could not be positively identified.
“Further examination by the IHRB veterinary officer confirmed that the filly was indeed Aurora Princess so an objective was lodged by the veterinary officer.
“The stewards enquired into the matter and Mrs Harrington accepted that the wrong filly had run. She held her hands up and accepted full responsibility.
“The stewards, using their power under 262 (iv) c, disqualified Alizarine.
“It’s an unfortunate incident. Because of the time restraints on a raceday the matter has been referred on to allow for a full investigation.”
Galtee Mist (11-1) won the Listed highlight on the card, the Colm Quinn BMQ Irish EBF Corrib Fillies & Mares Stakes, for Joe Murphy and Gary Carroll.
The five-year-old is entering her final weeks of racing as she is in foal to Make Believe, but she posted a career-best effort in gaining a valuable black-type victory by three and a half lengths over Lustown Baba.
Murphy said: “That was the plan. She ran a great race in the Group race last time (seventh in the Minstrel Stakes), beaten seven lengths, as the race didn’t suit her. They crawled for three and sprinted for three.
“We thought this track would suit her and she has full black type now and that’s her sixth win. She’s a good mare and she’s in foal to Make Believe.
“She’s in the handicap on Sunday, but she’d be off a new mark in that so it probably won’t happen.
“She might have to find a Group Three in England or somewhere as she’s finished racing on August 20.”
Ado McGuinness won the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap for a third successive year with 50-1 shot Sirjack Thomas.
The trainer fielded six in the race, including dual winner Saltonstall and it briefly looked as though he was going to complete a hat-trick when he hit the front at the top of the straight as pace-setting stablemate Spanish Harbour reached the end of his tether.
But Sirjack Thomas, who only snuck into the race on account of a non-runner, was flying in the hands of 5lb claimer Mikey Sheehy, pulling three lengths clear of 33-1 shot Quizical at the line.
McGuinness said: “We had a lot of bullets and I thought Saltonstall ran a blinder, he just got there too soon. The gap came and Sam (Ewing) went.
“This lad was drawn wide and I just told Mikey to drop him in and ride him for luck as they would go a good gallop, which they did. He gave him a peach of a ride.
“He only got in as a reserve last night and I rang Kevin O’Ryan as I was looking for a good 5lb or 7lb claimer.
“Declan McDonogh said this fella was top class and I have to thank him too.
“He’s only ridden for me a couple of times, but he’s a top class young fella and the claim was a big help.
“It’s unbelievable to win it three years on the bounce. I knew I threw plenty of bullets but that’s what you have to do sometimes.”
Sirjack Thomas – plus a handful of stablemates – could be back in action again later in the week.
McGuinness added: “He’s in again on Sunday. He’ll rock up again so will Current Option, Laugh A Minute, and Spanish Tenor if they are all sound.
“Last year we were a little disappointed with him, but he’s really come to himself this year. I don’t know why, but he got stronger and is a different horse this year.
“We’d given up faith running him in premier handicaps last season and we got him handicapped over hurdles, he’s only 96 I think over hurdles!
“We’re going to stay on the Flat for a while anyway.”
Emilie Gray was a thoroughly impressive winner of the opening Caulfield Industrial Irish EBF Maiden for the Dermot Weld-Colin Keane alliance.
Third behind subsequent Prix de Diane winner Joan Of Arc on her racecourse bow at the Curragh back in March, Emilie Gray had been well fancied in each of three subsequent outings but had not managed to get her head in front.
The daughter of Dubawi righted that statistic in some style, accelerating away in the straight for Keane to eventually come home eight and a half lengths clear of Prince Hector as the 5-6 favourite.
Weld was thrilled to see the grey triumph for owner-breeders Moyglare Stud, having also trained the dam Carla Bianca as well as multiple generations of the family.
He said: “She did it nicely. She handles the ground and she’s a progressive filly.
“Her form was there, she’s been very consistent. The trip was right, the ground was right and she delivered.
“She’s from one of the best Moyglare families, she’s a beautifully-bred filly and it was lovely to win with her.
“We’ll look at black type with her later in the year.”