It’s going to be a great week at Galway where the racing is as competitive as ever and there’s a couple of tricky contests on the card tonight to open the seven-day fiesta.
We start with a four-year-old hurdle at 17.20 where Gordon Elliott’s Lethal Steps has the highest rating in the field at 126. However, I really like the Willie Mullins-trained Authorized Art and Willie has won this contest four times in the last five years.
Let’s hope he gets us off to a flyer.
There’s only about 4lbs in ratings between all 20 runners in the 2m handicap hurdle at 17.55, so plenty will fancy their chances. I couldn’t pick any of them with great confidence, but there’s a few who should be competitive. Denis Hogan saddles four and actually rides one of them, Morning Skye, himself.
Brendan Duke’s Volatile Bay looks to have a chance, while Patrick Neville’s Sticky Situation drops back to 2m after proving a disappointing favourite over 2m 4f last time. Robbie Power is an interesting jockey booking for Paul Flynn’s Roachdale House.
There’s an odds-on favourite in the 7f maiden at 18.25 in Aidan O’Brien’s Innisfree. It’s no surprise as to me, as his form is way above anything else in the race. Dermot Weld’s Shekhem will be popular in the market, but he’ll need to be good to beat Innisfree.
An ultra-competitive 7f handicap at 19.05 follows, but I’ve no strong opinion on it. All I would say is if you fancy one, make sure it’s drawn from stall 1 to 10.
It’s very hard for horses drawn out wide to win at Galway.
There are plenty of runners fancied in tonight’s feature race, the 2m Connacht Hotel Handicap at 19.40 for amateur riders.
Johnny Murtagh has booked Derek O’Connor for Baba Boom who has won his last three starts, but hasn’t run since last July. Mount Everest’s Flat form is way ahead of his jumps form and Tony Martin won this race in 2013 and 2014, so knows what is needed.
However, Willie Mullins is on a hat-trick of wins in Monday’s feature and runs four tonight in Legal Spin, Great White Shark, Royal Illusion and my main fancy, Mr Adjudicator.
His run at Bellewstown when third to tonight’s rival Royal Illusion has really sharpened him up.
Richie Deegan’s 5lb claim means Mr Adjudicator runs off 10-6, he has a decent draw and in my opinion will take all the beating.
A very competitive 1m 4f handicap at 20.10 but Tony Martin’s Dundory stands out for me – especially if there’s money for it. He makes his handicap debut after three runs in maiden races, where he finished placed on two occasions over shorter trips.
The finale on the card at 20.40 revolves around the three market principles. Emmet Mullins’ stable won this race last year and he saddle Russian Diamond with Derek O’Connor booked to ride, while Willie Mullins saddles Think Positive who doesn’t have to improve much on his second-placed finish at Kilbeggan in what was a decent bumper there.
However, Risk Factor looked to run a bit green was second at Ballinrobe. Maybe he’s the one to beat if he comes on for the run.