It took him two decades to finally crack the code, but it proved to be a lucky 16th time for Patrick Mullins on day one at Ballybrit on Monday night.
The Connacht Hotel Handicap had been the only major amateur prize on the Irish racing circuit to elude Mullins in a notable career, but he ended that long quest on the well-backed favorite 11/4 Echoes In Rain .
The high-class hurdler still did enough to hold off the persistent challenge of his stablemate 16/1 Maze Runner after traveling smoothly through the trough.
It was a fourth amateur high handicap triumph in the past six years for winning trainer Willie Mullins, but all the post-race attention was on his son, Patrick, who had begun to doubt whether he was never going to clinch the prestigious two-mile handicap.
“Every year I come here with a fancy race, and it would have been a shame not to win it. It’s the most valuable amateur race you can participate in, so it’s great to finally have my name on the honor roll,” said the 14-time champion amateur jockey.
The rest of the card was dominated by stablemate Jessica Harrington as the veteran handler combined with jockey Shane Foley to complete a 123/1 hat-trick.
Pivotal Trigger, setting the pace, got the ball rolling at the Claregalway Hotel Maiden when Pivotal Trigger upset the odds at favorite Tiverton, while heavyweight Dairerin (9/2) obliged at the Clayton Hotel Galway Handicap.
The Harrington/Foley hat trick was completed in the Eventus Handicap, Irish Lullaby (13/2) prevailed in a cover finish from the heavily backed market leader Common Practice.
Galway jockey Derek O’Connor got trumps at his local track as he led Emmet Mullins trained This Songisforyou to victory in the final Monami Construction bumper, while Denis Hogan had the satisfaction of training and riding Darkened (12/1) to a narrow victory in the Easyfix Handicap Hurdle after overcoming a sustained duel with Listentillitellyea.
There was a shock result in the opening of the Galmont/Galway Bay Hotels Novice Hurdle with Gordon Elliott’s second chain Royal Eagle (18/1) revising the odds on the Hms Seahorse, which ultimately finished only third , in the climb to the post.
The first day crowd at the Galway Summer Festival was 15,179, a significant drop from the last comparable game in 2019 when Monday night attendance was 20,397.