We’ve had a couple of days away from Galway where the opportunities that had been presented to us earlier but for those who want one last fling there’s a bumper card of opportunities for both bookmakers and punters alike.
We start as the day means to go on, with a fiercely contested handicap hurdle (2.15). Joseph O’Brien has had much to celebrate in a training career that has quickly taken on all of the promise that can be expected of the family and he can add to a burgeoning tally of Galway winners with Cradle Mountain. A useful horse on the flat when rated 92 as a stayer, it’s taken him five goes to get off the mark over hurdles but he showed willing attitude to get the verdict at Ballinrobe last time out, handling a tight just as tight as Galway (if not more) with aplomb. He should have plenty to give once again now handicapped and whilst he’d taking on his elders for the first time he makes plenty of appeal.
Robbie MacNamara used to ride in these races before injury had its say but you cannot keep a good man down here and the rookie trainer has one of interest in Chadic. Rated 100 at his peak on the flat and then 85 at the time of switching careers, he travelled well when putting that flat class to good use when taking a maiden hurdle at Cork before he had to show a good attitude to get home. He ran respectably, if not as well as connections would have liked when he was midfield in a 2 mile handicap but he should be primed and ready and he’ll have learned plenty from his own hurdling debut to boot.
There will always be fast closer, gambles gone astray and unlucky losers, but several punters must have been weeping into their Guinness as Sea Light was beaten on Thursday after coming with a rattling late run to be denied by time more than Plain Talking in a 2m5f handicap hurdle. The winner was fourth in a stronger race than this yesterday and there’s a lot to like about his chances on paper but he’s no better than 6/4 once again here and it remains to be seen if this trip suits as much. He makes what looks a corking bettering market in the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle (2.45).
Bye Bye O Bye is 9 now and has been raced vigorously but he’s never been better than now over hurdles and the attitude he showed to win at Punchestown was exemplary. That was back in May but he’s been kept ticking with a nice pair of flat runs and should arrive here in peak form. Going up 8lbs for a head victory may seem harsh but the second and third were the 1-2 in a similar event next time and it’s hard not to like anything about his chances given that evidence.
Rendezvous Peak was behind Sea Light on Thursday but ought to have come on plenty for that run and should be a little more comfortable at this trip too so there’s plenty going for him from an each/way perspective and Tulsa Jack is fantastically well handicapped based on his 16 length Midlands National win over fences last time. Of the bigger prices, Lucinda Russell’s Tatnamount is interesting.
The Irish Stallion Farms E.B.F. ‘Ahonoora’ Handicap (3.20) is a quality contest for the flat fans and dual code lovers. With 16 runners over the tight decent draw as ever is sure to be a help and Kellini thankfully has one in stall 5. Kevin Ryan’s charge took the Premier Handicap at the Irish Champions Weekend off just a 2lbs lower mark and has held his form most admirably since, competing well in a variety of group races, and he ought to be upto going very well even off a monster weight.
The ratings have the At The Races Chase (3.55) as being between two horses with Plate second Alelchi Inois rated 4lbs clear of Plate fifth Clarcam. Alelchi Inois was three lengths ahead of his Gigginstown rival there but is far better retreated at the weights today, carrying 4lbs less to make him 5lbs better off, and that should make him very hard to beat here if over that race.
Elegant Statement is 21lbs behind the top two on ratings but he was a good winner at Down Royal when last seen and will be counting on coming here fresher, having missed out on a run on Wednesday. Three Kingdoms was well beaten in that race and more is needed today; of more interest would be Mister Hoteller, ahead of Mr FIftyone and Cavite Beta in a strong Killarney handicap chase.
The fourth from the Plate, Devils Bride, is favourite for the Lord Hemphill Memorial Handicap Chase (4.30) and ought to take the beating here. He was returning from a break when beaten by Mr Fifrtyone at Punchestown and the previous Grade 3 winner ought to take the beating, along with Jessie Harrington’s charge.
Gordon Elliot has quickly learned how to target the Festival properly and is also making a Habit of taking the best of decent buys from other yards. Mountain King, an ex-Phillip Hobbs seven-year-old, takes the eye as an interesting switch and he has plenty of useful efforts to his name especially in a promising season last year when he wa fourth and second in decent contests before disappointing ion his last start. The form of his second at Ascot is decent with three horses having won since from it, all of them in good contests to boot, and if tuned up – it would be a surprise if this isn’t his target -then he can go well off 133. Henry De Bromhead took this last year with Ballylongford and he should step forward from his recent return at Wexford where the winner was in the form of his life to boot.
Dermot Weld has sometimes had disappointments this week but nobody knows how to prepare one better here and Trazani looks a plot right out of the top drawer for the JPK Fencing Handicap (5.00). Right out of the back on his debut, he was then beaten by just a head when second at Dundalk, promising to improve for a step up in trip. He was third on his return when stepped upto this trip at Cork, a decent run at the time but now looking like standout form, with the dominant winner Harzand having won two Derbies and the second Sword Fighter since a Group 2 winner. It could be that he was flattered to get so close to the runner up (now rated 101) he was six lengths ahead of the four-time subsequent winner Qatar Hunter who is now rated 96. Today’s rating of 78 has him thrown in and he must be upto going well.
In the Kenny Galway E.B.F. Fillies Maiden (5.30) he has another strong chance in the shape of Mounira, a Raven’s Pass half-sister to five winners, including high earners Mourilyan, Mourayan and Mourad for John Oxx. On the basis of her main contenders form she hasn’t got a huge amount to find to be making a winning debut here with Fly By, Eavesdrop and Garbadine all having been exposed. Nonetheless was third behind the Queen’s Vase third and should be the main threat here.
And last but not least, First Figaro is favourite to end the festival on a high for punters in the Fr. Breen Memorial (Pro-Am) Flat Race (6.00) but he flopped at Punchestown badly and he faces five other winners here in what looks a fairly decent bumper to end the festival. An Caisteal Nuadh was a deeply impressive winner on his debut and whilst he has a bit more on his plate today the second and fourth had plenty of decent form in six runs before that and he should improve today. Licklighter, The Birdie Crowe and Mountain Rock are all other winners that make this a good contest.
NAP – 1 pt each/way Bye Bye Oh Bye 2.45 Galway (12/1 general)
1 pt each/way Cradle Mountain, 2.15 Galway (9/1 Bet Victor)
1 pt each/way Chadic, 2.15 Galway (12/1 Bet Victor)
1 pt win Kellini, 3.20 Galway (11/2 general)
3 pts win Alelchi Inois, 3.55 Galway (4/6 general)
1 pt win Mountain King, 4.30 Galway (11/2 general)
3 pts win Tarzani, 5.00 Galway (15/8 general)
1 pt win An Caisteal Nudah (4/1 general)