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Legendary Ansar bows out on top; SUPERSTAR HORSE & TRAINER.

Byline: PETER O'HEHIR

GALWAY Festival legend Ansar has been retired.

Trainer Dermot Weld confirmed last week that, at the age of 13 and due to slight heat in a tendon, the gelding has ended a career which saw him triumph seven times, from 12 outings, at the Galway Festival.

So, for the first time since 1998 there will no Ansar in action this week.

Bred by the Aga Khan and trained in his early days by John Oxx, for whom he finished third to Ciel D'Or in the GPT Van & Truck Rentals 3-Y-0 Handicap in 1999, Ansar's winning run at Ballybrit began a year later, when he won both the Albatros Maiden Hurdle (ridden by Norman Williamson) and the Guiness Extra Cold Race, with Pat Smullen in the saddle.

Twelve months on, he won the GPT Dublin Handicap Hurdle under Barry Geraghty on the opening evening and, three days later and with Paul Carberry on board, he captured the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

In 2002, Carberry was again in the plate when Ansar recorded his first chase success in the course, in the Guinness Novice Chase.

No joy for Ansar in 2003, when he filled fifth spot behind Nearly A Moose in his first crack at the Hewlett-Packard Galway Plate.

But, in 2004, David Casey drove Ansar up the hill to land the Plate at the expense of the Tony McCoy-ridden Risk Accessor.

And Dermot Weld provided further evidence of his expertise when he brought Ansar back to repeat his Plate win in 2006, when ridden by Denis O'Regan to beat Ursumman by seven lengths.

The history-books show that to be Ansar's final win at Ballyrbit, although he performed creditably in the last three Galway Plates, carrying the hefty burden of 11-10 into second spot behind Far From Trouble (to which he was conceding 20lb.) in 2006 and when finishing fourth to Sir Frederick (receiving 28lb.) in '07.

Ansar's final Festival appearance was last year, when, at 12 years of again, he again performed creditably in the Plate, finishing a good third to Oslot.

A true course specialist, Ansar, one of only three horses to win both the Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate, was recently described by his long-term trainer as a "very adaptable little horse that loved going around the inside at Galway."

CAPTION(S):

THE LEGEND THAT WAS.. Ansar dominated the racing scene at Galway for some nine years after competing in the Festival for the first time in 1999
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jul 27, 2009
Words:411
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