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)

Station can reopen for business at Kilbeggan 

We come into today on the back of a nice treble smashed in yesterday at Killarney, the highlight being Swamp Fox. He’s been such a legend for me over the past couple of years and following this latest win at 8/1 off top weight surely the Galway Hurdle has to be the target. I’ll be backing him as soon as the market opens. 

We got a bit lucky regarding Clondaw Warrior after his race was declared void because of what was essentially a false start by ‘winner’ Stars Over The Sea. I obviously wasn’t complaining as it gave me a fourfold payout and enhanced my trebles, but surely there has to be some consistency here. You see horses snatching a sneaky lead at flagfall all the time, yet this is the first time I’ve ever known them to look back at it and void a result. Does this mean they’ll be doing it all the time now? No, of course they won’t. Consistency, that’s all we want.

Back to the racing and today’s focus is on this evening’s card at Kilbeggan. As I’ve pointed out here before recently, Willie Mullins has got quite a few sub-standard (for his high standards) bumper horses at the moment, yet Mystic Theatre isn’t one of those and she should make a winning start over timber to kick off proceedings. I also fancy Mullins to get another winner with Screaming Rose in the 8.00, who was a narrow second on her chasing debut but can go in second time now stepping up in trip.

Joseph O’Brien was in flying form at Killarney yesterday with a treble and his son of Galileo, Monarch can get a deserved first jumping success at 6.25 after bumping into one on each of his previous three starts. The 6.55 is a very interesting race, meanwhile, and one that had me a bit torn between favourite Zanjabeel and Margaret Mullins’ Logical Song. They’ve had 10mm of rain overnight and with more to come I’m siding with the latter, who was consistently running well in handicaps last winter and certainly won’t mind if it turns soft.

Gordon Elliott might miss out on that one but I think it’s worth backing his Station Closed at a tasty 14/1 in the 7.25. Something must have been amiss last time out when she was pulled up after not going a yard at Bellewstown, but if you draw a line through that run this nine-year-old has been really progressive, winning three of her previous four starts. She’s ten pounds higher than the last of those, but won that race at Downpatrick with such authority that you feel this mark isn’t beyond her. Although it might not be her favourite surface, she has been placed before on soft (if that’s the way it goes) and she has the red-hot Davy Russell in the saddle, who is currently operating on a 31% win rate from 29 rides over the past two weeks.

And another one I’m prepared to take a chance on at a big price is Marinero in the evening’s big race, the Midlands National at 8.30. At first glance you might say that he’s been badly out of form but if you look at the company he’s been keeping he was a two-length second to Rashaan over hurdles two starts ago and his last completed chase run was in the Grade 1 Mildmay at Aintree. He was also deemed good enough to run in the RSA at Cheltenham when unseating and last November finished just three lengths behind none other than Thistlecrack, who for what it’s worth I think will win the 2018 Gold Cup. Marinero also has previous winning form on soft and the very competent JJ Sleven taking off five pounds. Basically I think he’s well worth an each way punt at 20/1.

Recommendations (all Kilbeggan):

5.50 Mystic Theatre 4/9

6.25 Monarch 13/8 (NAP)

6.55 Logical Song 7/2

7.25 Station Closed 14/1ew

8.00 Screaming Rose 5/4

8.30 Marinero 20/1ew

Welcome O’Brien double on the cards at Killarney 

It was back down to Earth a bit with our Wednesday selections, although Forgotten Hero did run a cracker at Uttoxeter and is definitely one to back again next time. I also suspect you might see Airlie Beach again in a couple of weeks at Galway when, a bit fitter, she might prove a different proposition.

Thursday’s Killarney card is an all jumps affair, save for a flat race full of jumpers, and it starts with one of the bankers of the week in the form of Le Richebourg, who can give the O’Brien family a bit of welcome cheer on what has been a week to forget for reasons far more important than horseracing. I also fancy Joseph to be in the winners’ enclosure again at 2.35 with Immortal Bridge, another four-year-old like Le Richebourg, who has made a solid start to his hurdling career with a win and two places from his three starts. In the first of those he finished fourth behind smart trio Lac Kivu, Cinema De Quartier and Someday and I think he’s well up to winning here.

The 3.10 is a fascinating handicap hurdle where two stick out for me, both of which have been generously priced up. Moonday Sun ran respectably in a Grade 3 last time out and although he’s ten pounds higher than he was when beating Bobabout and Ballyoisin at Punchestown, that form has been boosted this week by the latter’s superb performance on Tuesday. However, I have to be loyal to Swamp Fox, who has been a legend for me over the past couple of years and came good again at Ballinrobe at the end of May. He’s now on a career-high mark of 140, but has Barry Browne’s handy seven-pound claim on his side, as well as any rain that falls – something that doesn’t apply to Moonday Sun. 

Elsewhere, Bilko looks like he’s going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler if his close second to Blazer on his debut is anything to go by, and he is taken to win the 3.40. While the ‘flat’ race on the card should really go to Clondaw Warrior, with the Willie Mullins runner getting weight from many of his opponents due to the conditions of the race. 

Recommendations (all Killarney):

1.35 Le Richebourg 8/11 

2.35 Immortal Bridge 4/1 (NAP)

3.10 Swamp Fox 8/1ew

3.40 Bilko 2/1

4.45 Clondaw Warrior 11/8

It could be a Supreme evening at Killarney 

Winners at 6/4, 9/2 and 13/8 (NAP) made it a good Tuesday for readers of these column inches and it could so easily have been even better had Na Trachtalai Abu not been chinned on the line. But even with him we picked up the 7/1 each way money.

The blue and white colours of the Supreme Racing Club are likely to be seen in the winners’ enclosure on day three of the Killarney July festival, as they (and Willie Mullins) go to war with Wood Breizh, Airlie Beach and newcomer Galaxy Burg. The latter two could well form the basis of a very winnable short-priced double, with particular confidence behind Airlie Beach after her superb novice hurdling season last term. Here she runs on the Flat for the first time but can make it a winning debut.

As for Wood Breizh, I’m taking him on with Tony Martin’s Whatsforuwontgobyu, who returns to hurdling after two recent runs on the Flat after 11 months off the track. Rain is due to arrive at Killarney and this will be music to Martin’s ears as his seven-year-old’s three career wins have all come with some ease in the surface. Two of these were in competitive handicaps at the Galway and Leopardstown Christmas festivals and after the second of these he was rated 127. He’s now dropped to a mark of 123, with the very capable Donagh Meyler taking off another handy three pounds. Currently available at 9/1, he’s well worth an each way stab.

Also at Killarney Magna Cartor is another one worth taking a chance on at an each way price, with 15/2 currently available in the 7.25. The Shark Hanlon runner finished 11th in the Supreme at The Festival in March, ahead of the Mullins pair Bunk Off Early and Crack Mome, and more recently has shown some good form on the Flat. He’s been in the first three in each of his last three starts on the level without getting his head in front and the form got a boost with his Leopardstown conqueror Miles To Memphis going in again since. He’s been kept on the same mark as he was for his five length third at Limerick last month and has serious claims of going close again.

The other one I like runs at Uttoxeter, where Forgotten Hero makes his second appearance over hurdles for Kim Bailey. His jumping debut saw him finish second at Southwell but he’s entitled to improve both for that experience and the fact that it was his first run since October. Wind the clock back a year and he was a half length second to Mark Johnston’s Yorkidding in a class 2 on the Flat, ahead of Alan King’s Top Tug, while in October 2015 he was running in a Group 3. Here he gets five pounds from market rivals Lieutenant Gruber and New Agenda. The former, trained by Dan Skelton, is likely to pose the bigger danger but his resolve in a battle was shown to be suspect when going down at Stratford last month (beaten at 5/6) and I’m not sure he is going to build on the potential he showed last December when he was third in a hot Cheltenham bumper, ahead of the likes of Sumkindofking and Brio Conti. At the current prices Forgotten Hero is the one for me.

Recommendations:

2.25 Uttoxeter – Forgotten Hero 5/2

6.25 Killarney – Airlie Beach 5/4 (NAP)

7.25 Killarney – Magna Cartor 15/2

8.30 Killarney – Whatsforuwontgobyu 9/1 (NB)