A four-year-old only hurdle and Very Excellent comes into this in top shape for Andrew McNamara and Brian Cooper having won nicely at Bellewstown. Saint D’oroux ran the same evening and was disappointing, so they have stuck the cheekpieces on to get the same sort of performance out of him that he showed when third at the Cheltenham Festival behind Aramax in the Fred Winter.
Anna Bunina is a really good each-way play in this. She won nicely at Cork and was unlucky at Bellewstown. She represents really good value.
The 2m 6f Beginner’s Chase should see Braid Blue for Gordon Elliot and Davy Russell head the market on the back of four wins last season over hurdles. He was second at Cheltenham last October behind Champagne Well where another of today’s rivals was just behind in fourth.
Doctor Duffy was beaten at odds-on at Roscommon, but I am willing to stick with him and give him another chance and this track should suit him much better.
The Galway Hurdle has a real quality feel to it with a few of these horses having won graded races.
Wonder Laish is at the top of the market on the back of a really good comeback run at Tipperary in the Grimes Hurdle where, having not run for 16 months, he finished eight lengths behind Aramon. Wonder Laish won a big handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse where he beat Tudor City (winner of this last year) off a mark of 129.
He is now only 8lbs higher. Tudor City is now 18lbs higher! Tudor City has to enter calculations as his comeback run at Cork can be marked up. He got knocked sideways when trying to make his run and didn’t get a hard time after.
Due Reward was second last year in this contest and warmed up at Bellewstown. Charli Parcs is very talented but was never that keen on a big field when trained by Nicky Henderson. Aramax is trying to become the first four-year-old since Perugino Diamond in 200 to win it. He gets a 6lb weight for age allowance though, so that helps.
Willie Mullins’ battalion have always to be respected. His son, Patrick, rides Aramon who won the Grimes Hurdle easily, but Paul Townend rides the horse fancy I fancy, namely, Buildmeupbuttercup.
She is a very versatile filly, and is is good on the Flat too winning the big amateur race at this venue last year. She was fourth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and is only 2lbs higher now. Paul Townend obviously rates her chances.
Felix Desjy is an enigma and could make me look silly as he is super talented, but he loves to dominate in his races and this will be tough to do in a Galway Hurdle.
This looks on paper a bit of a match between the champion trainer and the runner up in that title race for the past few seasons. Gordon Elliot trains The Very Man, who is a really likeable sort, and takes on Jon Snow who was a bit expensive to follow in maiden hurdle last season.
Jon Snow had a nice comeback spin at the Curragh where he was made favourite. However, he was ultimately disappointing there and for that reason I am going with the consistent The Very Man for Gordon Elliot and Davy Russell.
Mick Fitz’s tips for Galway on Thursday
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