Galway Races 2015: Dermot Weld plays down chances at this week's Galway Festival

Jockey Jane Mangan in the parade ring with trainer Dermot Weld after winning the Carlton Hotel Galway City Handicap on Midnight Magic in 2012 at Ballybrit

Niall Cronin

There has been a lot of talk this summer about introducing a second-tier competition for football into the GAA, well a much more pressing matter may be the introduction of a Leading Trainer consolation prize for whoever finishes second to Dermot Weld this week.

On no fewer than 28 occasions, Dermot Weld has been crowned Galway's Leading Trainer during raceweek and it feels like he has played down his chances of taking that accolade for about 25 of those years but despite declaring a warning to those punters who depend on his Rosewell House residents to pay for their week in Ballybrit and maybe a few Christmas presents thrown in, Weld continually comes up with the goods.

This year he has indicated that objectives overseas with Mustajeeb heading to France, a possible trip to Arlington for Carla Bianca and plotting Free Eagle's autumn campaign are of higher priority than proceedings in the west of Ireland this week but still he has a enviable team of horses heading in that direction and the firepower may still be enough to see him bring the haul to 29.

Galway has always hosted two of Ireland's most prestigious races in the Galway Hurdle and the Galway Plate and this year the Hurdle will Ireland's richest jump race but aside from that the quality to come here in recent years has been from the top drawer.

Weld has never been a stranger to introducing a nice type at Galway and in the past he has won the two-year-old maiden on this evening's card with Grey Swallow and most recently with Mustajeeb while tomorrow night's fillies maiden was won by Weld's Tarfasha two-years ago and this seasons English 1,000 Guineas heroine Legattismo won the race 12-months ago.

And it's not just the good two-year-olds you need this week.


The last two Galway Plate winners have developed into leading Grade One winning staying chasers, Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches and it would appear at this stage that to run sneak in at the bottom of both the Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate this year, you'd have to be rated higher than you would to sneak into a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.

Annie Power also made a winning debut around Galway so you can start to get the point... If you think you've a nice one going to Galway you'd want to be fairly certain because you'll know your fate fairly quickly.

All this is a credit to the Galway Race Committee who have been awarded for their services in the past and led by racecourse manager John Moloney who will oversee his last Festival this week but he'll hand over the responsibility in the full knowledge that he has had the most positive of impacts on a week that is part of so many peoples calendar.

Galway isn't just a nursery for progressing top class horses but also maturing the up and coming members of the weighroom many a young jockey has walked into Galway wondering what it might throw up and walked out of it in high demand by trainers all over the country.

The feature race on tomorrow evening is the Topaz Galway Mile, a race with its own rich tradition and one that is never that simple to unravel.

Colin Keane is one of those young riders who came to prominence to a much wider audience after winning the Topaz Mile on Brendan Bracken for his boss Ger Lyons and Lyons could be a man to side with again this year.

Since Timarida justified favouritism in 1995 at odds of 11/4, no winner of the race has been any shorter in the betting than 6/1 but what Timarida did start was a successful period of three-year-old winners in the race.

Seven three-year-olds won the next 10 runnings but Palace Star in 2004 was the last since and hopefully that trend for older horses will be bucked by the county Meath-based Lyons tomorrow evening.

Lyons and his stable jockey Colin Keane have enjoyed a terrific time of things this season and while the trainer is likely to define his season by bigger engagements than this, he would surely only love to win the €120,000 handicap for a second time in three years.

Bertie Le Belge is a horse we haven't seen since running in the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh in May where he finished fifth but with the likes of Curvy and Giovanni Canaletto in front of him on that occasion that wasn't the worst run in the world.

The fact that Bertie Le Belge won on soft ground at Killarney is a big plus and getting the three-year-old allowance see's him running off a lovely racing weight and he's is worth siding with on this occasion.

Unfortunately jockey Niall McCullagh won't be riding at Galway this week and looks set for a spell on the sidelines after suffering a fall last week and we wish him a speedy recovery and Askmour is a filly he missed a winner on at Wexford on Saturday and if allowed to take her chance again she may oblige yet again.

The seven-year-old trained by Frank Dunne made the step forward from promising runs to get her head in front at Wexford and despite the quick reappearance she looks to hold the key from the likes of Massini's Trap who at his best would also have a say in a race of this nature.

Massini's Trap has earned a high rating over hurdles and day two of the Galway Festival starts with two jump races.

The Topaz Novice Hurdle looks most likely to go the way of the Willie Mullins-trained and Gigginstown House-owned Gangster who impressed when making his debut at Roscommon last month.

The five-year-old eased his way to victory at the expense of two subsequent winners in Cecil Corbett and Rock On Fruity and it will be interesting to see what he is capable of producing on this step up in class.

The Latin Quarter Beginners Chase looks a tasty renewal and the previous run of Hash Brown will be a big plus to his chances but Guitar Pete is a horse who made a big mark for Dessie Hughes as a juvenile hurdler, winning at Grade One level at the Aintree Grand National meeting and at the Punchestown Festival and now in the care of Sandra Hughes he looks to have the class to make a winning start over the larger obstacles having missed his intended target at Killarney earlier in the month due to the change in going.

The last four occasions Dermot Weld won the concluding maiden on tomorrow's card they've all gone off favourite and we should expect nothing different with Valac tomorrow.

The Moyglare Stud owned three-year-old has had three encouraging runs and should be able to get his head in front at the fourth time of asking.

Cronin's Choice

Galway tomorrow

5.15: Gangster

5.45: Guitar Pete

6.15: Siamsaiocht

6.50: Bertie Le Belge

7.20: Askmour

7.50: Bobby Jean

8.20: Valac