Plate day at Galway gets underway with a Listed novice hurdle, a race Willie Mullins has dominated in recent seasons – with four victories in the last five-years. Getaway Gorgeous represents the Closutton team this year with the mare returning from a break following a maiden hurdle success at Wexford on St Patrick’s Day.
She might be lacking recent race fitness compared to her rivals today, but that will not be a major concern coming from the stable of the champion trainer. The six-year-old has been very consistent to date on underfoot conditions, having not finished outside the places in all seven starts under rules.
The Very Man, with a rating of 134 for the Gordon Elliott team with Davy Russell in the saddle, is giving weight away to rivals which might prove decisive in a hot looking contest. The Gigginstown-owned runner has improved from finishing behind Unexcepted, Mt Leinster and Francin to win three on the bounce at Naas, Downpatrick, and Roscommon.
MY MIDNIGHT is getting 10lbs from The Very Man and that could be enough to see the Andrew Slattery-trained runner challenge for victory. The six-year-old needs to reverse the form with Getaway Gorgeous from Wexford, but has plenty of stamina to relish this shorter distance and challenge up the hill when others are fading away.
She was behind Minella Melody at Punchestown last December and managed to gain success in comfortable fashion at Kilbeggan earlier this month. She has plenty to find on ratings, but should represent value against more fancied rivals.
Telmesomethinggirl for Henry de Bromhead and With A Start for Noel Meade are others with chances in what is a cracking novice hurdle to start day three in Galway.
John Breslin and Tony Martin love nothing more than finding a nice winner at the Galway Festival, with the likes of Quick Jack and Tudor City previous memorable victories. The duo team up with UPGRADED, a possibly well handicapped improving horse to take this mares handicap hurdle with Philip Enright in the saddle.
She has previous Galway experience which is always beneficial having raced at Ballybrit on five previous occasions, including victory in flat handicap at the Festival last year. Her comeback run of the season, having been rested since last November, was extremely impressive with an easy 7-length success at Bellewstown three-weeks ago.
It was a surprise victory on paper for a Martin winner at 28/1 with Enright having very little to do in the saddle besides pointing in the right direction. Martin reported major schooling sessions over the winter for her improvement over hurdles and indirectly pointed to Galway for her next start.
A rise of 12lbs in the ratings might not stop this mare, who also had an entry in the Galway Hurdle. This is obviously the easier option and who knows, perhaps the 2021 Galway Hurdle might be a longer term target at the age of seven with more improvement over the next year.
Jessica Harrington’s Barrington Court shoulders top weight following her victory at Tipperary recently, while Effernock Fizz has nice form in the book and was not beaten far in the Grimes Hurdle last month.
Elsewhere, the Brendan Burke-trained Leagan Gaeilge, a winner over hurdles at Leopardstown last Christmas is rated 123, while Willie Mullins takes a chance with Jazzaway.
The John McConnell stable is improving year-on-year and the trainer has found a good opportunity to land a maiden hurdle with HAND IN MY POCKET. The five-year-old takes her first chance over hurdles following a good bumper success at Bellewstown three-weeks ago, with Rachael Blackmore in the saddle today.
She had one start in a point to point last November at Dromahane when finishing an excellent second to Queens Brook, who ran third in the champion bumper at Cheltenham in March for Gordon Elliott. She was unlucky not to win a bumper in Scotland in February and has schooled well over hurdles according to her trainer.
The step up in trip should prove a positive and she should have enough class to see off the Elliott-trained, Talk Of The Town. That five-year-old was a surprise winner over a shorter priced stablemate when winning a Kilbeggan bumper earlier this month. The mount of Davy Russell will also appreciate a step up in distance, but looks a nice chaser down the line.
Kaatskill Nap returns to hurdles for the first time in 667 days since an October 2018 run at the Roscommon course. However, the Willie Mullins-trained runner has recent fitness following a spin on the level at the Curragh last month. Snake Oil is another interesting runner and only the third horse on the track for leading owner Barry Connell since deciding to take out a license to train in his own name.
J.P McManus owns four of the 13 runners taking part in this handicap chase with retained jockey Mark Walsh riding THECRAICISNINETY. The Padraig Roche-trained runner is the only one of the four McManus horses with a recent start, when second at Kilbeggan on a comeback effort last month.
The now nine-year-old has only won once over fences, but has many creditable efforts to his name over the past few seasons. Rated 131, that second place finish in the Midlands and slight drop in trip today are positives to see him challenge in a race where questions remain over many of his out of form rivals.
Jan Maat looks the main danger for Henry de Bromhead and Rachel Blackmore, with the Gigginstown runner having excellent form in the book. His recent return at Killarney will put him spot on to run well here, following his previous down the field performance in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
He was second to Wicklow Brave in a novice chase here last year and runner-up to the former Mullins star at Listowel last September before winning a Grade 3 at Punchestown in October.
Quamino returns to fences after his recent victory over hurdles at Roscommon and is another lively contender for Paul Nolan and jockey Byran Cooper.
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