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Dermot Weld will always to known as the King of Galway, but the Rosewell House team has taken a more casual approach in terms of finding numerous winners over the week at Ballybrit. Colin Keane rides debutante Duke De Sessa, with Weld looking for his 25th victory in this opening maiden following success with Blue For You last year. The son of Lope De Vega is owned and bred by the Newton Anner Stud and has some nice entries in both the Futurity Stakes and National Stakes later this year.
However, ANCHORAGE is the selection and looks an improver for Aidan O’Brien after his debut third at Naas earlier this month. The benefit of previous experience is always a positive at Galway, especially for a juvenile, and the son of Galileo should appreciate the uphill finish having stayed on from off the pace on debut. He can reverse the form with Michael O’Callaghan’s I Am Magic, who was just ahead in second place at Naas. Meanwhile, Global Energy is an each-way contender for Sheila Lavery.
Sheila Lavery has her team in good form heading into Galway, with both Supreme Machine and Miramis recent winners for the yard over the past week. Despite a slightly highish draw in stall nine, DAGODA can hopefully bounce out quickly and find a good position under Robbie Colgan before kicking on to score in this 7-furlong handicap. The daughter of Starspangledbanner remains a maiden after six career starts, but has nice recent form and warrants plenty of respect.
The three-old only raced twice as a juvenile last season before finishing seventh on her seasonal return at Gowran Park in April. She disappointed afterwards behind subsequent Sandringham winner Create Belief at the Curragh before two decent second place finishes at Limerick and Killarney earlier this month. She can be competitive off a 73-rating and will appreciate the drop-in trip for a trainer who won this race with Romiac in 2015.
There are plenty of old warriors doing battle among a competitive field for this 7-furlong handicap, which could be won by the lightly raced YESTER. David Nagle’s runner is having a first run in handicap company off a rating of 74 following a decent fourth place finish at Killarney earlier this month. The son of Kodiac tried to make all on that occasion before fading into fourth in the closing furlong, which wasn’t a bad performance.
A good draw in stall five, a drop back in trip by a furlong and the 5lbs allowance from good rider Scott McCullagh gives him a solid each-way chance. Elsewhere, Dundalk maiden winner Ola Bonita bounced back into form when recently second at Roscommon, but is drawn high in the car park. War Hero, wearing cheekpieces for the first-time, shouldn’t be ruled out with his trainer Adrian McGuinness winning this race back-to-back with Beau Satchel in 2015/16.
The feature Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders Handicap has been dominated by Willie Mullins in recent seasons, with three victories in the past four years. The Coolsutton team has six declared runners and Patrick Mullins was complementary of the chances of both his mount Hook Up and stablemate EXCHANGE RATE in a recent preview ahead of the Festival. The Mee family runner gets the verdict, and looks to have a nice profile for the race with Jody Townend in the saddle.
The nine-year-old has previous course experience having won a maiden here in 2017, with his most recent success coming at Listowel when bolting up on the bridle under Patrick Mullins a year later. He’s had his issues having been off the track for Mullins since November 2018 before returning at Listowel last month. That recent spin should put him spot on for this off a rating of 82, in a race were only two horses have carried over 11-stone to victory since 2002.
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