Galway Races: Three best bets to kick-off an Irish Bank Holiday weekend

There's still Friday and the weekend to go in Ballybrit.



There’s something nice about the day after Ladies Day, isn’t there? The furore has died down, everyone’s behaving like a semi-normal human being again and there’s no fashion contests apart from the one you’ve had with your Da the night before you popped off to Ballybrit.

We’re not saying the Galway Races are to be avoided – quite the contrary. It’s just nice for the focus to be on the racing again, and there’s no finer setting for summer racing in Ireland (if you like to forget Killarney) than Galway on a sunny evening.

With that in mind, here’s three of the best bets ahead of Friday’s action.


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17:45 – 7f Maiden

Much of the focus here will be on Aidan O’Brien’s Santiago. The son of Authorized ran well on his debut at Leopardstown to finish second to Howling Wolf. While the bloodline is strong, the form of that race is somewhat questionable.

Donnacha O’Brien put him in a very good position from the off and the race fell into his hands. There’s every chance that with better tactics, Kingslayer would have shown in front of him, while Kassaba ran a big race given where he was placed early doors. He drifted like a barge that day and there’s enough to suggest he may not be worthy of the price he’ll be here.

Ironically, Aidan O’Brien’s charge Love won a much stronger maiden on paper, with Jessie Harrington’s Alpine Star very unlucky in-running. Stuck in behind a Zoffany and a Galileo on your debut, while holding genuine grudges on how the race panned out is enough for me to side with Alpine Star.

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18:50 – Guinness 1m 4f Handicap

There is next to no pace in here and for supposedly weaker races in the summer, this one can boast entries from the who’s who of the breeding world. We’ve got a Nathaniel in here, a Declaration of War gelding and a Frankel, as well as sons of both Camelot and Galileo.

In reality, only one of those is on course for the heights the owners would have reasonably expected. Ballydoyle’s Il Paradiso runs off 103, but best of luck carrying 9-6 on your back in this. His victory at the Curragh was nowhere near as impressive as the handicapper thought, and that puts me off him.

J J Murphy’s War Diary could be exceptionally well-handicapped – his two runs this year has wielded two wins. His win in a 10-runner handicap last time was hard-earned as he had to wriggle his way between horses to get home in front.
A 5lb rise is ok – but I can’t help be drawn to the Frankel colt –  King’s Vow.

It seems bizarre to suggest his 4lb hike for finishing second in Down Royal was better value than War Diary’s 5lb rise, but it seems to be the case to me. This could well set up for his lethal turn of foot.

19:25 – Irish EBF Fillies 1m 4f Maiden

The King of Ballybrit Dermot Weld saddles one that might be the day’s banker. Ben Coen takes 5lbs off Hazel Bay’s back, which goes some way to negating the 10lb extra she has to carry as the only four-year-old in a field of three-year-olds.

Coen’s rides her for the first time and could be a stone better than these – if her last race is anything to go by where she finished third to Tipitena and Royal Illusion at Roscommon. The winner didn’t disgrace herself in a Grade 3 in Cork, while Royal Illusion subsequently won twice.

Don’t over-complicate this one.

*Prices correct at time of publication.

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What do you think?