The debate over which code is better rages on and on through the year, and especially the long hot summers, but fans of both codes are the real winners this week as the Galway Festival kicks off tonight with a mixed card before Glorious Goodwood tomorrow, giving us one of the most action packed weeks of the entire year.
This evening’s card starts with a sight familiar to many jumping fans; A long odds on Mullins French import in a novice hurdle (5.15) and it would be a surprise if Muthaza, a three time French winner on the flat and a two time winner in Ireland so far, was beaten here. She has not extended out of a gallop in two wins, including when beating buyer Beware at Bellewstown, and it should be as simple again although players in the markets without and each/way thieves. Buyer Beware may be a good bet in those markets, seeing as she is on 7lbs better terms with her last time out conqueror Tagg’s Island, and that maiden hurdle form looks a bit better than St Lawrence’s Gap win last time.
The Easyfix Handicap Hurdle (5.45) is the first of many competitive events of this style throughout the week and market confidence behind Camlann and Sarwistan should be noted, especially with the former having had a convincing flat win under his belt. Beckwith Star, a winner of this race for the last two years, has been well out of form this time around even with the help of 7lbs claimer Dylan Robinson and he makes less appeal than both those. Stormey has quickly become a useful horse in a short space of time with a win in a maiden hurdle at Sligo followed up by a second at Ballinrobe on his handicap debut. Dixie Highway went one better, winning two handicap hurdles by a neck and half a length in June and May. It’s interesting to note that he’s been kept ticking on the flat since and in a race where many at the top of the market lack leading form he makes appeal.
Aidan O’Brien and Dermot Weld are likely to go head to head between themselves a lot this week and their pair dominate the Claregalwayhotel.ie (C & G) E.B.F. Maiden (6.15) with Courage Under Fire and Right Honourable. Dermot Weld’s Right Honourable gets the vote on the basis that he ran in the stronger maiden of the two, when he got no run late on. Watch out for the Ger Lyons pairing of Brutal and Buffalo Blues.
It’s tough to get a handle on the Claytonhotelgalway.ie Handicap (6.50) with a 15 draw for Heartful over 7 furlongs taking away from the general appeal of the favourite although there’s lots to recommend her. Zebgrey, a winner of two of her last three starts, has to be considered a serious player.
The Connacht Hotel Q.R Handicap (7.50) is one of many battles between the flat and the jumps and it would be no surprise to see the Time To Inspire leave his recent debut (handicap) behind with a visor on for Fintan Maguire but it’s a competitive enough race and he makes the market in what should be an each/way race with the rest of the field 10/1. Listed winner Benkei (also a course and distance winner), was a slid winner over 1m6f the time before and must go well for Jamie Codd whilst strong-finishing Curragh third Weather Watch is entitled to be thereabouts off same mark for Jessie Harrington.
Roconga didn’t get a clear run in a Fairyhouse apprentice handicap but if he’d have had a better run there he may well have gone close to winning so this step up in trip is a positive for him. Of serious interest on jumping form are the crack pair of handicappers Ted Veale and Rennetti, both of whom are flat winners. Rennetti has had a fine jumping season, finishing fourth in the Greatwood and then third in the Ladbroke, needed the run badly on his recent flat return but should be straighter now and could be best of all.
The Eventus Handicap (7.50) is one of those contests where any one of 6 last time out winners could realistically be the choice. Motherland’s impressive maiden win would make him the visual choice ahead of the others but the best form may belong to My Fantasia, who has bumped into two progressive prospects on the AW before winning last time. John Oxx has been back in recent form and he could land a notable winner here.
The last (8.20) should be lucky for some with experience already and Robin Des Forest should improve on his opening show of fourth at Wexford whist Sizing Knockeen should have more left in the locker if he managed to keep company with his rider on his way to the start this time like had failed to do at Clonmel. Both can go well along with Bensachuine but Jessie and Kate Harrington partnered up well to take a number of contests at big festivals with debutants in bumpers and their Kalinte is of real interest here.
1 pt each/way Dixie Highway, 5.45 Galway (12/1 general, 10/1 Ladbrokes*)
2 pts win Right Honourable, 6.15 Galway (11/8 Bet Victor)
1 pt each/way Renneti, 7.20 Galway (10/1 Ladbrokes)
1 pt each/way My Fantasia, 7.55 Galway (7/1 general)