Galway – Day 7

Well done if you’ve made it this far and especially well done if you’re somehow ahead. It’s the final day at Galway, the final furlong of the summer extravaganza and the final chance for us to bang in some winners.

It all kicks off at 2.15 with a typically tricky 2m handicap hurdle and Andrew McNamara’s Papal Motel is my pick. A model of consistency, the four-year-old hasn’t finished outside the first three in his last five runs (flat and jumps) and not outside the first four in his last seven. The one problem is that he hasn’t got his head in front in that sequence, but I’m willing to give him a chance of breaking that run today. He finished third on the Flat on Thursday and won’t have an issue with the softer ground. 

There are two I’m interested in in the 3m contest at 2.45 – King Leon for Joseph O’Brien and Ellmarie Holden’s Static Jack. We haven’t seen King Leon for over a year but if you look at his form at that time it makes for impressive reading, not finishing outside the first two on each of his completed runs (6 races) going back to August 2015. He runs over hurdles today off a mark eight pounds lower than his chase rating and looks to have a big chance with Barry Geraghty in the saddle. Static Jack, meanwhile, was a winner on soft at the same track last September and returns to hurdles off a 13-pound lower mark than his chase figure. He’s been running in some quite strong races over the bigger obstacles and should be in the mix here.

I’ve got no interest in the 7f maiden so it’s straight onto the 3.55 where Riven Light is favourite to follow up his win on Tuesday. He’s got a terrible draw though and I prefer to take a chance on two at bigger prices. Dream Walker has also been unlucky again with the draw (only one inside Riven Light) but ran a cracker the other day when advised on here at a big price and won this race last year. He’ll love the ground and can go close again. And another one that I tipped up the other day was Secret Wizard, who was never able to get involved on Tuesday but drawn much better today in 8 can give a much better account of himself. He’d won two of his previous three prior to this week and is too big at 33/1.

The 4.30 is a race to watch now that Road to Riches is out. I was going to advise backing him each way but now he’s out I don’t see the appeal of going in on Shaneshill at 2/5. 

In the 5.00 I’m backing Attribution to make his class tell despite a big weight. He beat the smart Ballyoisin last time out and won on soft in December ahead of Briar Hill and Three Stars at Navan. This is form far superior to anything else in this race.

And then there’s the one I’ve been waiting for all week – Dara Tango. Ran a cracker at Leopardstown in June on his comeback from two and a half years away and has twice been well backed since only to be pulled out both times by Tony Martin. He has graded placed form over hurdles, but is equally smart on the Flat and will take all the beating today. Get on!

And then there’s the bumper to end the card where Ainsi Va La Vie should oblige at odds on. Very impressive at Limerick on his debut last month and he even gets a handy two pounds from main rival Santiago De Cuba for Joseph O’Brien.

One other tip to mention – I like the chances of Red Riverman again in the 3.00 at Market Rasen. He’s won his last two and the three pounds he’s gone up is offset by Zoe Baker’s five pound claim. He can go in again today with market leader Innocent Girl seemingly high enough in the weights now.

Selections:

2.15 Galway – Papal Motel 6/1ew

2.45 Galway – King Leon 9/1ew & Static Jack 11/1ew

3.00 Market Rasen – Red Riverman 7/2 (NB)

3.55 Galway – Dream Walker 9/1ew & Secret Wizard 33/1ew

5.00 Galway – Attribution 9/2ew

5.30 Galway – Dara Tango 4/1ew (NAP)

6.00 Galway – Ainsi Va La Vie Evens

Galway – Day 5

Apologies for the delayed arrival of today’s entry – blame my employers and some women’s football tournament in Holland.

Anyway, Swamp Fox. I said in yesterday’s blog that he is probably my favourite horse in training, well let me change that – he is definitely my favourite horse in training. What an absolute cracker of a performance (again!) yesterday in the Galway Hurdle. I thought he had it, I really did, only to get done on the line (also again!). He really deserves to win one of these big pots and I hope his day will come. Swamp Fox – I bow down at your hooves.

Rathvinden did score for us however (tipped up at 8/1) and how too. If he can stay sound he could have a very interesting season ahead. Elsewhere, Lac Kivu was without doubt the major disappointment of the day and he’s got me really questioning the form of that race he won now as even though it reaped several subsequent winners all of them have bombed out this week (Cinema De Quartier & Immortal Bridge). Or maybe it’s just that they all need better ground and a track not as unique as Galway.

Onto today and it has to be said that it’s a bit of a step down after the high quality action of the last couple of days. I’m seeing it as a chance to come up for air before we dive back down for the weekend and thus i am abstaining from getting involved in every race. The opener I am interested in though and I’m in the camp of favourite, Golden Spear for Tony Martin. He won at last year’s festival and was second the year before, so it’s fair to say he likes it there. He’s amazingly only once won over hurdles (back in September 2015) but has consistently run well in some of the season’s big handicaps – fourth in the race formerly known as The Ladbroke at Ascot in December, for example. He can make it two wins today.

In the 6.15 I like the chances of Aranhill Chief, who won twice at the 2014 festival and was second in this race last year. He was beaten that time by the reopposing On Fiddlers Green, whom he meets on 7lb better terms today, yet Henry De Bromhead’s runner is more than half his price in the betting. The ground is softer than ideal but yielding should be fine and I’m looking forward to a good run for my money.

At 6.50, Tara Dylan gets my vote. Another one with a previous festival win on it’s resume, Thomas Mullins’ daughter of Dylan Thomas was running in listed company last time out and has good form with cut in the ground, with two of her three wins coming on a soft surface. 

In the 7.55 I’m behind Delegating again, a horse we backed on Monday when finishing a three-length third. That was over seven furlongs, today he travels a furlong further and should go well again. The only doubt is the draw, out in gate 14.

Without doubt the best two races bookend the card today and the finale is a fascinating contest over 1m 6f. Renneti has been installed as favourite but I like the chances of Willie Mullins’ other runner, Digeanta. He ran well to finish fourth over two miles on Monday in what was only his second race back after a 21-month layoff, so you would imagine he would be getting fitter with every run. An Irish Cesarewitch winner before his injury, he’s well capable of winning a race like this and is nicely drawn in stall six, with the added bonus of Danny Sheehy taking off a handy seven pounds. Sheehy must still be on cloud nine too after his winning ride on Jet Streaming on Wednesday. 

Selections:

5.10 Golden Spear 4/1ew

6.15 Aranhill Chief 12/1ew

6.50 Tara Dylan 14/1ew

7.55 Delegating 5/1ew

8.25 Digeanta 6/1ew (NAP)

Galway – Day 4

A disappointing third day of the Galway Festival for blog followers with Exchange Rate’s win being the only real high point, even though Shaneshill did get us some place money in the Plate. There were some hard luck stories too with Dean’s Road massively inconvenienced by the fall of Devil’s Bride two out in the big race of the day, when seemingly just coming to challenge, while Bayan in the last met all kinds of trouble and was never able to get a run to get into contention.

I hope you’re already on Max Dynamite for Thursday’s big race, the Galway Hurdle, as he’s now as short as 7/2 (advised here at 9/1 last week). I’ve already given my reasons why he should go well, but just to add that the predicted soft going shouldn’t inconvenience him too much, with previous winning form on his CV on such ground. With Zubayr not declared because of the going, my second vote goes to arguably my favourite horse in training, Swamp Fox. He has already finished second at the track earlier this week on the Flat and even though his mark is high enough over hurdles now he never seems to run a bad race and has to be worth a punt at 16/1.

While long-time king of Ballybrit Dermot Weld is still waiting for his first winner, one former Weld inmate has already won this week (Robbie McNamara’s Cascavelle) and another could rub further salt into the wounds, with Don’t Tell No One a very tentative pick in the first race of the day. 

Townshend is favourite for the Grade 3 novice chase at 2.15, but I fancy the other Willie Mullins runner, Rathvinden, at a bigger price. He was rated 16 pounds higher than his stablemate over hurdles and even though it could be argued that Townshend looks much improved for the switch to chasing, Rathvinden looked to be really getting the hang of the bigger obstacles last time out when an impressive 12-length winner at Wexford. He also gets a nice seven pounds from the market leader today. 

At 2.50 Knockmaole Boy is taken to follow up his maiden win on Tuesday, while Jessica Harrington’s Drumfad Bay is the pick in the listed 7f race at 3.25. Both are far from confident however and my advice would be only minimal stakes on these two contests, as well as the already mentioned opener.

I’m much more confident about the chances of Lac Kivu following up his Punchestown romp from a couple of months back in the 2m 4f novice hurdle at 4.00. Now we could be watching a star in the making here as this four-year-old looked a class act when winning in May. He easily beat Cinema De Quartier by 13 lengths, a horse that next time out won by 17 lengths himself. Third at Punchestown was Someday, one of the smartest bumper horses of last season, while fourth was Immortal Bridge, who subsequently won twice. And it goes on, as the seventh finisher, Major Destination, also went on to win afterwards, so it’s fair to say that was a pretty decent race. Lac Kivu won’t have things all his own way however as this is a stern test of his credentials, with Bhutan in particular lining up as a formidable opponent. 

At 5.15 Camlann can win at the track where he was third twice at last year’s festival. Shark Hanlon’s six-year-old is one of the toughest horses around and is likely to be seen twice again this week, with his first assignment being this 1m 4f handicap on the Flat. He arrives in grand form having been placed in his last eight races, all of which were over hurdles, and has won on heavy so won’t mind the deteriorating ground, if it does get really soft. Pat Smullen takes the ride and he looks to have a cracking chance.

Indeed it promises to be a strong end to the day as I’m really keen on the chances of Peacocks Secret in the concluding bumper, wearing the same colours as Camlann of owners the Mee family – the green and purple halves made famous by Hidden Cyclone. Peacocks Secret is a new addition to the Mee collection following a narrow defeat at Wexford in May and two close-up third place finishes before that. Patrick Mullins is in the saddle for cousin Emmet and he can visit the winners enclosure again here with main rival Dayna Moss running for the second time in four days. 

Selections:

1.40 – Don’t Tell No One 6/1ew

2.15 – Rathvinden 8/1ew

2.50 – Knockmaole Boy 9/2ew

3.25 – Drumfad Bay 8/1ew

4.00 – Lac Kivu 5/6

4.35 – Max Dynamite (previously advised at 9/1ew) & Swamp Fox 16/1ew

5.15 – Camlann 3/1 (NB)

6.00 – Peacocks Secret 13/8 (NAP)

Galway – Day 3

Day two at Galway was a strange one for me as the only two jumps races yielded no success, yet we got an 8/1 winner and another placed at 33/1 on the flat. Some normality was restored though with a jumps winner at Worcester – Scoop The Pot doing exactly that for us after being advised here at 8/1.

Day three is when the festival really kicks into gear at Galway with the first of the meeting’s crown jewels taking place – the Galway Plate. For my thoughts on that race check out my blog from last Tuesday when I highlighted the claims of Deans Road and Shaneshill, both of whom remain my two fancies for the big race.

The action gets underway a bit earlier than previous days with the first at 3.15 (not so handy for those of us who have managed to get home from work in time for the opener on each of the first two days!). Barry Geraghty has ridden the winner in the first on both Monday and Tuesday and has a golden opportunity to make it three in a row on Castello Sforza. The Willie Mullins runner has been a punter’s nightmare in the past, being beaten at evens and shorter in three of his four races over hurdles, but has a gilt-edged opportunity to shake that maiden tag here. 

Next up is a mares handicap hurdle over an extended two miles and I can’t split two that I like – The Birdie Crowe for Jessica Harrington and Brian Ellison’s English raider Our Kylie. The former arrives off the back of a smooth success at Limerick ten days ago and has previous winning form at Galway, having won a bumper here last September. Meanwhile, Our Kylie won this race last year (her last run over hurdles) and comes here in tip-top shape to defend her crown after two wins on the Flat.

In the 4.25 I’m really keen on the chances of Immortal Bridge, who is lingering at the bottom of the weights and looks to be on a good mark, despite going up six pounds for his win at Killarney a couple of weeks ago. The four-year-old, a winner on the Flat for Aiden O’Brien last year, is learning fast under the tutelage of O’Brien’s son Joseph and is shaping into a nice prospect. I think he can continue his upward curve with victory here and has shown already he has an appetite for a battle if needed going up that finishing hill.

Willie Mullins has already had a couple of winners on the Flat this week and he can get another one in the 5.00 – a maiden over 1m 4f. Exchange Rate goes for the champion trainer and looked a decent sort when winning a bumper at Downpatrick last month. Patrick Mullins guided him home that day and he takes the ride again here.

As predicted it’s been an unusually quiet Galway Festival for Dermot Weld, but he could be about to spring into life with So You Thought (6.15) and Sansibar Jewel (6.50). The latter was beaten at odds of 4/7 in April but a line can probably be drawn through that run as Weld’s yard was struggling with the virus that affected many of his stable. It wouldn’t be Galway without a Weld winner or two so let’s hope one (or both) of these two can do the business.

A hugely competitive 2m flat handicap brings up the finale and I’m backing Gordon Elliott to land the lucky last just as he did on Tuesday. Jockey Billy Lee has been flying this week and he takes the ride on Bayan, who blew away the cobwebs at the Curragh in June after 21 months off the track. Now rated 76, this is a horse who was 11 pounds higher before his layoff and a former winner of the Grade 3 Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot. Perhaps even more significantly, he was runner-up in the Galway Hurdle in 2014, and if back to anything like his best is a massive price here at 16/1.

Selections:
3.15 Castello Sforza 10/11

3.50 The Birdie Crowe 10/1 e/w & Our Kylie 7/1 e/w

4.25 Immortal Bridge 11/2ew (NAP)

5.00 Exchange Rate 5/2 

5.35 Deans Road (previously advised at 20/1ew) & Shaneshill (previously advised at 10/1ew)

6.15 So You Thought 10/3ew

6.50 Sansibar Jewel 2/1

7.20 Bayan 16/1ew

Galway – Day 2

A largely frustrating opening day of the festival at Galway with four places (five if you include Hidden Cyclone with Skybet paying down to sixth) and just the one winner. Could have been far worse however and we go again on day two in search of those winners.

For those of us that prefer the jumps element of the festival this second day is probably the worst of the week, with just two contests to satisfy us. They are the first two on the card too and I’m predicting both could go the way of Willie Mullins, following up a good opening day in which he had the winner of the big 2m flat handicap as well as the concluding bumper. 

In Tuesday’s opener he saddles Law Girl, who bounced back from an uninspiring debut for Mullins at Listowel to run out a very impressive winner last time out at Roscommon three weeks ago. Indeed, such was the improvement it was like we were watching a different horse… cue jokes about microchip scanners et al. Anyway, I digress. Today the four-year-old daughter of Lawman gets 12 pounds off likely main rival, Cinema De Quartier and if reproducing her last run that could prove the decisive factor. The 7/2 that was about has now been snapped up, but even at 9/4 I think she’s a good bet who is likely to be shorter still tomorrow.

The same famous Ricci pink and green colours could be in the winners enclosure again just over half an hour later with Bamako Moriviere running in the 2m 2f beginners chase at 5.55. The champion trainer was less than enthusiastic about his hopes for the six-year-old on his website earlier but if you look at the form, he’s rated 148 over hurdles, 13 pounds higher than anything in this field. He also won’t mind the soft ground having won on heavy back in France as a youngster. The only negative is that he comes here on the back of a fall on his chasing debut a couple of months back, but according to Mullins has schooled nicely at home since. One other fascinating contender in this race is Product of Love who only ran in his second bumper in April and is now fast-tracked to fences after just two races over hurdles. Talk about not messing about! It might all prove a bit too much too soon today but he’s shown his talent in his fledgling career and is one to keep an eye on in calmer waters in the coming weeks and months.

It’s not all about Galway today with some decent jumps action also at Worcester and I’m particularly interested in Philip Hobbs’ Scoop the Pot, who carries top weight in a class three handicap at 6.40. We haven’t seen him since December when he disappointed at Bangor in what was a season to write off. Dropped four pounds for that performance to his current mark of 120, he’s now on the same rating as he was when running third in a handicap at Cheltenham’s Open meeting in 2015, five lengths behind Unowhatimeanharry, and we all know what he went on to do. If back to that sort of form, he would take all the beating here and I’m willing to take a chance at 8/1.

Galway selections:

5.20 – Law Girl 7/2 (NAP)

5.55 – Bamako Moriviere 5/2

6.25 – Conquest 11/4

7.05 – Cascavelle 8/1ew

7.40 – Secret Wizard 20/1ew & Dream Walker 33/1ew

8.10 – So Sensible 20/1ew

8.40 – Honor Oak 11/1ew & Beau Sachel 15/2ew

Also, at Worcester…

6.40 – Scoop The Pot 8/1ew

Galway – Day 1

The highlight of the summer is here – it’s Galway week! A veritable feast to satisfy the appetites of jumps and flat fans, so strap yourself in and get ready for a rollercoaster seven days of action.

It all kicks off with a cracker of a novice hurdle. This is a race that has been dominated by Willie Mullins in recent years, with McKinley, Bachasson and Muthaza all scoring for the champion trainer. This year he relies on Nessun Dorma, who has impressed in two wins this summer, but my vote goes to Le Richebourg, who can give Barry Geraghty the perfect return to the saddle after his spell on the sidelines with injury. Joseph O’Brien’s four-year-old has looked very smart in winning twice himself over recent months and got to within six lengths of Debuchet in a Leopardstown bumper in January. He can get our week off to a winning start.

Next up is the first of a series of fiercy contested handicaps that we’ll have to work out over the week. There is only six pounds separating the 20 runners, so weights are less of a consideration as usual and I’m going for Tony Martin’s Artful Artist. Martin targets this week and has Davy Russell booked to take the ride on this eight-year-old who finished second in a flat handicap at last year’s festival. He was last seen at the Easter Fairyhouse meeting, finishing seventh that day, but was second in a similar handicap at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. He also has decent form with some cut in the ground and should go close here.

I won’t be going into too much detail on the shorter distance flat contests but the 7f affair at 6.25 looks like a confident pick for Joseph O’Brien’s Medal of Honour. He’s been second the last twice to two of his father’s smarter two-year-olds, the latest of which being next year’s Derby favourite The Pentagon. That’s easily the best form here and he should continue the young trainer’s superb recent form.

There’s another 7f contest at 7.05 and this one is much tougher to unravel. I’ve plumped for Michael O’Callaghan’s Delegating, who was just edged out by one of Dermot Weld’s in a maiden last year. Course and festival form counts for a lot so that’s my reasoning for giving him the tentative vote.

The 7.40 is the big race of day one, the Connacht Hotel Handicap over an extended 2m on the Flat. I gave my thoughts on this race in Thursday’s blog and with both Swamp Fox and Hidden Cyclone declared I’m looking forward to a bold bid from both.

The 8.10 looks the hardest race of the night and I wouldn’t blame you for skipping it. With a low weight, a nice win in his prep for this and with Tony Martin’s targeting of the meeting again considered, I’m going for Acclamatio for the same owners of earlier fancy Artful Artist. Then there’s the bumper where I’m going for Robbie McNamara’s Analytical Mindset after he gave a very positive word for the horse in the Racing Post the other day. With Mullins and Elliott runners likely to fill the favourite spots he should be a decent each way price too.

Recommendations:

5.20 Le Richebourg (NAP)

5.55 Artful Artist e/w

6.25 Medal of Honour 

7.05 Delegating e/w

7.40 Swamp Fox 8/1ew (NB) & Hidden Cyclone 16/1ew (previously advised at 20/1 antepost)

8.10 Acclamatio e/w

8.40 Analytical Mindset e/w