Ruby Walsh: Stratum has huge claims at 10/1 in Thursday’s Galway Hurdle

Ruby Walsh marks your card for a terrific Thursday at Ballybrit.


We start Galway Hurdle day with a Beginners Chase over 2m 6f at 14.00. Willie Mullins’ Dandy Mag hasn’t run for 582 days and will have to bring his absolute ‘A’ game to beat Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors who was rated 152 over hurdles.

The Novice Chase at 14.35 has a small-but-select field and Wicklow Brave should prove the best of these over fences as he was the best over hurdles. He’ll do for me.

I’ve no opinion on the 1m handicap at 15.10 but the Listed Fillies race at 15.45 sees Ballydoyle provide two challengers in I Remember You and Fire Fly. It’s interesting that Donnacha O’Brien has opted to ride Cava for his brother Joseph, but I like the top-weight Surrounding for Mick Halford.

She has a lot of weight but she’s a very good filly.

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We return to more jumps action at 16.20 and the 2m 4f Novice Hurdle. At a push I’d side with Willie Mullins’ four-year-old Foveros and forgive him his defeat in Ballinrobe. I don’t know what the four-year-old’s record is in this race, but I doubt many have tried.

His stablemate Little Nugget is not impressive at home but produces her best on the track, while Charles Byrnes’ top-weight Doctor Duffy will have his supporters.

There’s a fabulous line-up in the 2m Galway Hurdle at 16.55 headed by Willie Mullins’ Sayo who hasn’t run in 503 days, so it’s a tall order. Paul Townend has opted for Channing who won at Killarney last time, but she got beaten at this meeting last year off a mark of 126 and runs in a better race now off 136. I’m not sure how much scope for improvement she has.

Our best chance lies with the Conor McNamara-ridden Stratum. He claims 7lbs bringing Stratum’s weight down to 10-13 and that gives him a huge chance.

That claim could be prove valuable and Stratum’s the one for me.

Of the others, David’s Charm was well fancied for this race last year – he always seems to be unlucky and I’m not into unlucky horses.

Chosen Mate for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell must improve. He was exposed as a novice and doesn’t look particularly well handicapped.

Band of Outlaws was a good winner of the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but then got overturned in Grade One company at Aintree and was beaten by Thomas Hobson in Tipperary.

He’s a very fast horse but I’m not certain Galway will play to his strengths.

The same can be said of Riven Light who hasn’t run over hurdles in a long time and his stamina could be stretched, while Tudor City always seems to find one that’s too good.

I like the favourite’s stablemate, Gardens of Babylon. He’s a good, tough, individual who beat older horses when he won at the Punchestown Festival. Gavin Cromwell’s Ejayteekey is the outisder in the field but he could be underestimated as he probably found himself in front way too soon at Bellewstown, when beaten by stablemate Ming Dynasty.

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We revert to the Flat for the final two races on the card. In the 1m 4f handicap at 17.30 One Cool Poet will try to follow up his earlier win this week but unfortunately, he’s been drawn in stall 18 and that could prove a tough ask.

The lucky last at 17.59 – Guinness time – is a 2m 2f Flat race. I’m siding with Ooksoo for Emmett and Patrick Mullins. Emmet’s horses are flying and they really like this one.

*Prices correct at time of publishing 

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What do you think?