Immediately after Clondaw Warrior won the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot last month jockey Ruby Walsh joked with trainer Willie Mullins that part one of the plan had been delivered and the second was the Guinness Galway Hurdle.
Walsh wasn’t riding Clondaw Warrior at Ascot, instead he was celebrating as his wife, Gillian, is one of the Act D Wagg Syndicate who own the seemingly still improving eight-year-old.
Walsh rides Diakali today in the Galway Hurdle and Clondaw Warrior won’t be one of his rivals as he missed the cut for the race by 12 places so instead connections opted for tomorrow’s feature, the €100,000 Guinness Handicap as a consolation.
With €60,000 going to the winner it is certainly a fine consolation indeed and following his impressive win in the Ascot two-and-a-half miler, he would appear a warm order to follow that up at Galway off a mark of 96, which is only 10lbs higher than when he won the November Handicap at Leopardstown last year.
The drop in trip to just short of a mile and a half isn’t a concern either as Clondaw Warrior was a winner over a very similar distance here at Galway last September so neither trip or the track are an issue and it would be a surprise if he didn’t continue his winning ways here.
Such is the strong hand that Mullins brings to Galway today and tomorrow, there is even a possibility he may well go into the weekend challenging the great Dermot Weld for his 29th leading trainer award at the week.
Weld spoke about the depth of his team not being as strong as in previous years and and although Mullins wouldn’t have the numbers to match Rosewell House over the seven days, he has managed to make his mark felt each day so far this week.
With two winners on the opening day for Weld, none on Tuesday and one yesterday, the door is open for Mullins to make it very interesting as the week goes on, similarly to how Tony Martin did in the past.
Obviously both trainers come into today with strong teams but tomorrow, as well as Clondaw Warrior, Mullins can also land the Guinness Galway Blazers with Devils Bride.
Devils Bride was prominent in many bookmakers ‘lists for the Galway Plate on Wednesday but it was clear once the weights were revealed that he was never going to get in so here was the obvious alternative and owners Gigginstown haven’t spared their entries for the race.
Devils Bride is the pick of Michael O’Leary’s strong Gigginstown team as he won well on his last two chase outings and a nice race behind Galway Hurdle runner Rawnaq in his prep for Galway last time out.
Weld can hit the mark in the two-year-old maiden with Palmetto Dunes and the concluding Guinness Race for the second season in a row, and in the same colours as well, as Good Tradition looks to follow Forgotten Rules who eased to victory here last year.
Palmetto Dunes went into the notebook after a nice start to his racing career in a Leopardstown maiden and if he builds on the promise shown there behind the highly regarded Sanus Per Aquam he should take a bit of beating.
We all know that Forgotten Rules went on to be a high-class performer and there was few who didn’t know that at the time so it’ll be interesting to see what heights Good Tradition can reach in time.
But after making a successful return to action at Killarney in May, this looked an obvious target for the horse.
Elsewhere, the opener looks a good opportunity for Pat Fahy’s Western Boy to return to winning ways over hurldes after also getting his head in front on the Flat at Killarney.
Western Boy was a good horse in his novice days and while things didn’t work out for him during the last jump season, it was encouraging to see him win again under Fran Berry earlier in the month and that should leave him spot on for this.
This race features many horses who missed out on the Galway Hurdle and another of those is the Philip Dempsey-trained Mr Diablo who can hopefully run a nice race for connections.
Reverting back to the Flat and the 7.25 is a maiden for three-year-olds and upwards and Giant Redwood is an interesting one here as he is a half-brother to Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi.
By Galileo, Giant Redwood certainly warrants respect and the market will surely prove a good guide to how he is going at home.
5.10 Western Boy
5.45 Palmetto Dunes
6.15 Devils Bride
6.50 Clondaw Warrior
7.25 Giant Redwood
8.00 Vocal Alert
8.30 Good Tradition