Ruby Walsh: My tips for day one of the Galway Races

Galway's grand festival is upon us and Ruby Walsh is gearing up to return to the saddle. He found a few minutes to give us his picks from day one's card...

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17:20 – Novice Hurdle

Willie’s won three of the last four, I’ve won three of the last five, and Willie has three runners in this renewal of it. Having not ridden any of these three in the races it’s difficult enough to pick here.

Cool Colonnade was very good in Sligo. It looked a pretty weak race but he couldn’t have been any more impressive. Shoulda Lied improved a hell of lot from Downpatrick to win well in Tipperary, and Easy Game won over 2m4f in Killarney so it’s tough to pick.

For two miles around Galway on slightly slow ground Easy Game is a good stayer and probably is just a little bit better than Shoulda Lied.

2017 Galway Festival Day 3, Ballybrit, Galway 2/8/2017
TheTote.com Handicap Hurdle
JJ Slevin on Mr Antolini
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

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I’m ready for action with him and have done plenty of schooling and work riding. I’m really looking forward to getting going now.

I’ve a decent strike rate in my races back, but this is a difficult race. Easy Game will be the best of these three in the long term in my view, whether he is at the minute I don’t know.

17:55 – Handicap Hurdle

Denis Hogan’s horses are in good form, he has a couple of runners here. He’s riding Golden Poet himself, and Barry Geraghty is on Storm Rising, they’re in good form obviously.

2017 Galway Festival Day 1, Ballybrit, Galway 31/7/2017
A view of Punters at the races
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Davy Russell rides Ange D’Or Javilex for Gordon Elliott, that’s his first run for Gordon. He’s comes from a few well-respected yards, so how much more Gordon can get out of him will be interesting to see.

Then there’s the McManus runner The Major General that Aidan O’Brien used to train, he would look well-treated compared to his flat mark.

It’s a very tight handicap – just 5lbs from top to bottom, it’s basically a 105 to 109 handicap – how much more competitive could it be?

19:40 – 2m1f Handicap

We won it last year with Whiskey Sour for Aubrey MacMahon, this year he’s on Uradel. Looking back through this race, over the last ten years maybe one horse has carried over 11-stone but this year the standard is quite high.

Chelkar is on top for us with a lot of weight, Richie Deegan takes a valuable 5lbs off him, he ran really well at Ascot and he’s bound to have improved from that run.

Limini we haven’t seen in a long time, but if she’s the filly she was she could be very well-handicapped off a rating of 89, she has a lot of work done, she hasn’t run in a long time but we can’t get her any fitter. 89 is a very winnable mark for her, so we’re thinking we might as well going for a €100,000 pot for her as a €20,000.

Having said that, the 11-stone weight still would concern me there. That points towards Uradel being the one of ours best placed is you go by that stat. He’s in good order, he’s fresh, and Aubrey won this race last year.

2017 Galway Festival Day 4, Ballybrit, Galway 3/8/2017
General view of the Galway Races
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

I’m not a big stat man, but I do that it’s an interesting one, so I’d be looking for a winner under 11-stone, and that narrows the list down significantly.

The draw could be important too. Limini has 9, Chelkar 11, Uradel has the worst of it in 13. Some might think that jockeys need a lot of experience to win this, but Aubrey showed last year, that’s not necessarily the case.

20:10 – 1m4f Handicap

Maze Runner has improved a lot since his run in Killarney. He was obviously disappointing there but I think he’s gotten better since then. He’ll have to because this is a competitive race. Colin Keane is riding a lot of winners for us and hopefully this will be another one.

20:40 – The Bumper

We won this last year. My father’s runner here Batcio pulled out of Ballinrobe last week because the ground was too quick. Dermot Weld has a newcomer there by Galileo, Neptune, and we know what his record is like in Galway.

Royal Rendezvous is a horse we like. We’ve kept him for Galway so hopefully we’ve made the right decision. He’d be my pick of all our runners for the day.

Easy Game and Cool Colonnade would be the next two out of ours. If Limini does approach 5/1 at any stage she should be an each-way bet. Maze Runner has the most to prove.

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What do you think?