Briar Hill can prove a cut above rest on chase debut
Published 26/07/2016 | 02:30
Day two of the Galway races sees the card split five to two in favour of flat races; personally I'd like to see more action over the obstacles but there are still plenty of intriguing contests to hold your interest as the festival starts to heat up.
We have three runners in the first two races on the card but Briar Hill in the Latin Quarter Beginners Chase at 5.45 is undoubtedly our best hope of a winner this evening.
A winner of the Weatherbys Champion bumper at Cheltenham back in 2013, he had a bad fall in 2014 where he got a kick in the head, which explains why his career has been a little stop-start since then.
He's not a flashy sort by any stretch in terms of his work at home (he was a 25/1 shot when he won at Cheltenham) and he wants good ground, but we are confident his jumping will hold up from what we have seen so far.
Looking elsewhere on the card, Joseph O'Brien has Draco in this one and he looks a decent sort, but given a fair run I think Briar Hill should be a class above these.
Our other two runners go in the first race of the day at 5.15. Master of Verse was beaten in Downpatrick on his last run and he's a free running sort who doesn't make life easy on himself.
And that style of running will work against him coming up the hill in Ballybrit.
Ruby has chosen to ride our other entry Penhill. He's rated 100 on the flat but he was very disappointing in Killarney earlier this month.
If you discount that run you can make a case for him here but I like another of Joseph's horses, Oathkeeper, in this one.
The six-year-old has only been beaten once in four starts and he beat me in Listowel when I was on Bel Sas, who was made to look very ordinary and that is the kind of run you can't ignore.
It's over to the flat for the last five races on the cards and I won't win any prizes for originality by tipping up Dermot Weld's Eziyra in the Fillies Maiden at 6.15. She ran well to come second in Tipperary on her first run and they can build on that here to get Dermot off the mark for the day.
And he looks well placed to pick up a quickfire double with Sikandarabad in the 7f Maiden at 6.50.
He had been off the track for over a year when he ran second in Leopardstown but Dermot loves a winner at Galway and this one looks like he's been at this week.
The big race of the day, the Galway Mile, looks a competitive renewal and might be tough to call. It's good to see Top Notch Tonto over for the race.
He hasn't been in his best form of late but you'd think that Brian Ellison hasn't just brought him over for the fun and maybe he's seen something at home that will put him in the shake-up in this race.
If he can rediscover some of his old swagger, he'd be a big price.
However I'm going to go for Creggs Pipes in this one. Andrew Slattery's horses are going very well at the minute and while he's up 4lb, he might have a few more pound up his sleeve yet.
I'll go for Beat The Ballot in the penultimate race of the day. He was second at Naas last time out and is improving at the right time. Ronan Whelan is riding really well too and confidence will be high after his winner at Ascot.
And finally, Automated and Jack Kennedy can round off the day with a winner for Gordon Elliott.
5.45: Briar Hill NAP
7.20: Creggs Pipes
7.50: Beat The Ballot