Sunday 25 February 2018

Almela can deliver for Weld at Galway

Dermot Weld will be hoping for victories this evening. Picture: Sportsfile
Dermot Weld will be hoping for victories this evening. Picture: Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

Dermot Weld's domination of the Galway festival is well known and he can strike at that venue in this evening's feature Ardilaun Hotel Oyster Stakes with Almela.

This is a really nice opportunity for the daughter of Sea The Stars. The Aga Khan's four-year-old has an official rating of 108, which puts her quite nicely clear in what is anything but a deep renewal.

Weld won the race last year with Zhokova and, happily for Rosewell House, there is only one other horse in the race with a three-figure rating.

That rival is Glamorous Approach, which ran quite a nice race at York last time. She gets nine pounds off the selection and it was her stablemate, the high-class Stellar Mass, which was the only horse to beat Almela last time.

The opening Donnelly's Of Barna European Breeders Fund Maiden looks within the grasp of Exemplar. The Galileo colt made a bright commencement to racing when second at the Curragh and, given how much the Aidan O'Brien juveniles can progress from their debuts, he is nearly impossible to oppose.

This colt is a half-brother to 1,000 Guineas winner Blue Bunting and seems relatively precocious. Likely he will be punitive odds, and certainly popular for accumulator backers.

The Galway Bay Golf Resort Handicap is not all that strong and Lady Ranger may be able to follow up a deceptively snug win at Gowran. The main worry about the Bushranger filly here is the coffin-box draw in 13; much will depend on the opening stages.

Yamato could be a danger for Michael Halford. Having only raced six times, he can probably win for the first time in due course, and Halford struck with a winner at Navan on Saturday. He seems to handle an ease.

A weak Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Median Auction Fillies Maiden might go the way of Joy For Mary, for little-known trainer James Coyle.

Her 50/1 second at Roscommon was a fair effort. Likely Coyle did not expect that she might be up to snaring a maiden at Galway but likely too he did not expect this to be as winnable as it is.


Jim Bolger can take the James P Cunningham Electrical Handicap with the hardy Intense Stylist, which deserves a winning turn, though Fair Game's overdue Tipperary triumph may give him a little confidence.

Fair Game had been a pretty frustrating customer but the way she battled on at Limerick Junction suggested she may have turned the corner.

The Galway Apprentice Handicap can go the way of Lilly The Lioness, which has won three on the bounce. Her very talented trainer, Garrett Power, reckons that the nine-year-old is better going left-handed, but she has course form that will render her a popular selection.

The Sean Cleary Memorial Maiden can bring up a double for O'Brien, a race that honours the sadly departed son of trainer Tom, who lost his life after a fall at Galway.

A high draw for Treasure Chest is less of a concern in a maiden than it would be in a handicap. With a rating of 85, he is hardly unbeatable, but he should be thereabouts.

It will be interesting to see if there is money for the Weld-trained Massayan, which was pretty unfancied when midfield on debut at the Curragh.

Quite stoutly bred, he should have some progress in the locker, and has place claims at least. The Ballydoyle runner is preferred.

Irish Independent

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