Clarach set to get Tony Mullins off the mark
5.10 Guinness Qualified Riders' H'cap Hurdle 2m 2f
A GALWAY festival that has so far been blighted by the elements, switches to weekend mode with another busy programme of activity this evening.
For all that the inclement weather has made this a trying week, conditions on the track have held up admirably well. The fields have not suffered, the racing has been largely competitive and everything has gone off smoothly, so John Moloney and his brilliantly hard-working and energetic Ballybrit team now just need the sun to shine.
Tonight's schedule isn't the most spectacular of the seven days, but it offers a typically intriguing variety, with the Guinness Premier Handicap a cracking feature.
A €60,000 heat over a mile and a half, it has become synonymous for throwing up winners from some of the country's more modest training establishments.
Dermot Weld, Aidan O'Brien and Mick Halford, who have one each in the nine-strong line-up, don't quite fall into that category, but Stephen Nolan, James Motherway, John Cullen, Denis Hogan and Luke Comer probably do.
Tony Mullins might fall somewhere in between. The Gowran handler is the only one of the three training Mullins brothers not to get his name on the scoresheet so far this week, and he relies on Clarach to redress that balance here, the prolific mare having flattered to deceive in the main event on Monday evening.
Another out to make amends is Jamsie Hall in the always compelling Galway Blazers Handicap Chase. A massive 17 turn out in that, Gordon Elliott's Carlito Brigante, a non-runner in Wednesday's Plate, burdened with 12st 7lb at the top of the page.
However, his stablemate Jamsie Hall is the one with a reputation to redeem.
In the Plate, after locally-born Paddy Brennan returned from England to ride and bust a gut to do 9st 10lb, he reciprocated by refusing to race, before dumping Brennan on the turf.
This time, our own Davy Condon, who has won on the delinquent twice, takes over. Maybe that will be the key to a more enthusiastic showing.
5.10 Guinness Qualified Riders' H'cap Hurdle 2m 2f
Groomed is unexposed. A winner on slow ground on the Flat, he didn't run great last time, but has the help of a good rider on his handicap bow.
Mic Milano got off the mark at Ballinrobe last time. He is a useful sort if he can cope with a massive burden.
Of the rest, Tirmoyle and Muzak must enter calculations on jockey bookings.
Verdict: Groomed might step up to plate.
5.40 Guinness EBF Auction Maiden 7f
Elleval ran well to be second to a decent sort, Hard Yards, on his Roscommon debut. He will handle the ground and cannot be discounted.
Ballydoyle's King Of The Romans is sure to improve for its Leopardstown debut, while Nurpur has disappointed a little. She hasn't lived up to her reputation, though she could still win a maiden. The Weld debutant, Muaanid, is obviously a threat to all.
Verdict: Elleval might just topple the higher-profile representatives.
6.15 Guinness Galway Blazers H'cap Chase 2m 6f
The veteran Agus A Vic is no back number yet, and gets in here with little weight on his back. Carlito Brigante and Jamsie Hall represent Gordon Elliott, with Jamsie Hall maybe more interesting despite his antics here on Thursday.
Kyle's Turn has a squeak under his in-form rider, and Raz De Maree is a novice with scope to improve following his stylish Wexford coup last time.
Victrix Gale accounted for Jamsie Hall when completing a hat-trick at Limerick. Fourth at Kilbeggan subsequently, she had the Plate runner-up just in front of her there, so that form is rock solid.
Verdict: Victrix Gale still has appeal for Tony Martin.
6.50 Guinness Premier Handicap 1m 4f
Chicago, on a three-timer here, must be respected for his connections and will go on the ground. However, he has plenty on for a three-year-old with his huge weight.
Olympiad just prevailed on his seasonal reappearance. In light of his stable's potency, he cannot be discounted and is massively unexposed.
Inis Meain was on duty here yesterday, while Authorization was a fine maiden winner last time, though this is a tough assignment on just his third start.
Paddy The Celeb and Shamiran are closely matched, with Clarach another worth considering. She looked sure to collect on Monday, but didn't quite get home.
Verdict: Back over a shorter trip, Clarach has nap potential.
7.25 Guinness EBF Maiden 1m 4f
Pale Mimosa's sole run, when fourth to Alla Speranza at Cork in October, was a fair effort and the third, Authorization, franked the form nicely at the Curragh recently.
Gumption has shown a modest but distinct level of ability in his three starts to date, likewise Buckingham Gate in his four outings.
Verdict: Pale Mimosa won't need to be a star to win this.
7.55 Arthur Guinness Handicap 1m
California Rose came into her own over a mile to win twice in July. She is eight pounds higher again now, but Money Spider, second to her at Killarney last time, didn't show the form in a bad light when third here on Monday.
Merkel has been consistent but this won't be the easiest introduction to turf after seven all-weather starts. Stuccodor, sporting first-time blinkers, hasn't been one of Rosewell House's leading lights to date but, ultimately, that may not matter.
Verdict: California Rose can bring up her hat-trick.
8.25 Guinness Race 1m 6f
Shadow Eile wasn't disgraced on Monday night and is a solid campaigner with more to give in these sort of races. At his best, Distant Memories would take all the beating. He goes in the ground and is still the highest rated of this quartet.
Notable Graduate has struggled a little since last year's Irish Derby. He cannot be entirely written off yet, and is tried in blinkers now.
Verdict: Notable Graduate is taken to redeem himself in headgear.