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Fran Berry, Racing TV & SportlingLife.com pundit
Run for Mary was a very good winner at Limerick recently. Cathal Burns trains and Phillip Burns will ride and that one appeals in the big amateur race on Monday, day one of the seven day Festival.
Emmet Mullins’ Crowns Major has multiple entries at the Festival and won at the Punchestown Festival. He’s had three quick runs on the Flat quite close together, and was an eye-catcher at Bellewstown when dropped in off a slow pace last time. He’s in the amateur handicap on the Monday and later in the 1m 4f handicap on the following Saturday. Worth watching.
On Tuesday, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile is the feature event and I’m really interested to see if Lola Showgirl travels over over for the Galway-born, UK-based trainer David Loughnane. She won at Royal Ascot to give him his first winner there and she’s entered in a couple of races at Ballybrit.
It could be a case of the local boy coming home with a winner, as she’s a front-runner who gets on the pace and could be very interesting.
On A Session is entered in the same contest and was trained in Ireland last season by Aidan Fogarty when third to Current Option in the 7f Ahonoora handicap.
He’s with David Barron in the UK now and while he didn’t run too well last time at Ascot in the Bunbury Cup, he’s entered twice at Galway and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounce back if taking up either – or both – engagements.
And finally, Dermot Weld’s Shamiyana ran a massive race when a close-up third in a Curragh maiden to Concert Hall and Voice of Angels on Irish Oaks weekend. She’ll be a warm order if she pitches up in a Galway maiden and holds a Group 2 Debutante Stakes entry at the Curragh at the end of August.
Ruby Walsh, RTE, RTV pundit & Paddy Power Racing Ambassador
Willie Mullins’ Foveros may run in the amateur handicap on the Monday night and Aubrey McMahon will take the ride for his dad, Luke.
The McMahon’s have won the race twice with Whiskey Sour and Uradel, and they both ended up 100+ rated horses afterwards. I’m not sure Foveros can go that far, but he does have some decent previous form at Galway. He beat Quartz Du Rheu there in October 2019 in a rated novice hurdle and beat Little Nugget there too at the Festival the previous August.
He’s definitely a horse that likes this track, but he did get a significant hike up in the ratings when winning the 2m Flat race under Wayne Lordan. He went from 66 to 83, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on after that 17lb hike in the weights.
Willie Mullins does have plenty of runners for Galway though. The two beginners’ chases could feature Bleu Berry in one and Lady Berffni in the other. Robinnia won a mares’ beginners chase at Tramore and coul;d be the best of the three, but she’d need to improve a bit to get involved.
Meanwhile, The West Awaits, Farout (who won a maiden hurdle at Cork) and Dark Voyager could all be of interest in the novice hurdles.
Royal Rendezvous was second in last year’s Galway Plate and he’ll go back to it again.
I just don’t see any obvious ones in the Galway Hurdle or the Galway for Willie. I fancied Royal Rendezvous last year, but can he go one better this year? I like second-season novices in that contest and I don’t think we have any for it.
Farout, Dark Voyager and The West Awaits, Lady Breffni and Bleu Berry are the ones that stand out now to me.
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Frank Hickey, Paddy Power Trader
At this early stage, there’s two for me that stand out from the entries.
The first is the three-year-old Baseman for Dermot Weld. He had a bit of a reputation and was well-backed for his intended debut run at the Curragh but was a non-runner due to the soft ground.
He ran at Tipperary last September, was well-backed again but touched-off and a little bit unlucky there. He disappointed on his second start, at the Curragh, but the heavy ground there may have been to blame on his final start last season. He made a nice reappearance behind Frill at Gowran over 7f last month and then I really liked the way he won at Limerick last time.
He had a terrible draw and got held up, but quickened nicely to win. A mark of 90 might underestimate how good he could be.
For the 2m amateur handicap on the Monday night, My Sister Sarah stood out for me. She won the last day at Listowel off 74 by a neck from Coventry, but they were eight lengths clear.
She’s gone up to 83, but that was her first-ever win left-handed. She ran well at Galway last year, finishing fifth over a 1M 4F within three lengths of winner Mt Leinster.
She was second to Great White Shark in that handicap hurdle. That was off a mark of 137, she’s rated in the 140s now. She’s been running in graded hurdles and she’ll get to go off a Flat mark of 83 in this contest. A stiff finish over two miles will really suit here.
And Ruby Walsh says he wouldn’t put us off either – as she’ll bomb up the hill at Galway.
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