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WITH four winners in the last six renewals, the first place to start when studying the Guinness Galway Hurdle (5.05) is with the Willie Mullins horses – and he’ll have one fifth of the field running for him today, with four of the 20 runners.
A strong case could be made for each of them, including Farout under Danny Mullins which was available at 10/1 yesterday.
He was seventh of 20 in a flat race here on Monday, and probably worked a bit too hard early on, so it will be interesting to see how he gets on back over timber – although, I must admit, I’m not confident enough to back him.
Instead, I’m going to be completely unoriginal and put forward
Adamantly Chosen under Paul Townend, which looks set to go off as favourite around 5/1, but I reckon he has the right profile for this – and is still a bit of value, even at that price.
The five-year-old is lightly raced –with just six outings, which include a bumper and a novice hurdle win –and having finished mid-division on his handicap debut at Cheltenham, off a rating of 142, he raced off 136 in a Grade B handicap at Punchestown, finishing a very respectable fourth of the 24 runners.
I’m sure he would have been a lot closer had Townend managed to find a better position when the race got going properly, but in the end the gelding had too much to do.
He’s running off a mark of 137 today for a racing weight of 11st 5lb, which is definitely within a winning range – and while anything can happen in a big field like this, with a bit of luck in-running he’s bound to go close.
Of the rest, Dermot McLoughlin’s Santa Rossa is the one I’m most worried will spoil my bet on her handicap debut, priced around 6/1. She was late on the scene so is still unexposed for an eight-year-old. But connections have been quite ambitious with her entries – and rightly so, as she won a Grade Three at Tipperary in good style last month.
This is the Galway Festival and it’s no fun just sticking with the favourites, so I’ll have a big-priced, each-way bet today on Whatharm, which looks far too high at 25/1 for the Rockshore Handicap (3.20).
Trained by Pat Flynn, the gelding had a great run of form a couple of years back on the all-weather at Dundalk, winning a string of handicaps, one of them when rated 93.
His form trailed off last year on turf, and while his second-last place of 11 on his debut run this term, in a handicap at Fairyhouse, does not look great on paper, he was slowly away then and met trouble in-running.
That will have shaken off the cobwebs at least, and with a rating of 89 this afternoon I think he can go close at a big price.
Ampeson is likely to go off as favourite and trades at 4/1 at the time of writing.
The five-year-old has been quite useful in handicaps lately and clocked up two recent wins to send his rating from 69 to today’s 84. While he’s thriving at the moment, I suspect that hike will finally slow him down.
In the concluding Guinness Time Flat Race (6.10), I’m quite keen on Brookie, which I’m hoping to back at 5/1 or thereabouts. Tony Martin’s gelding actually started off over hurdles rather than in bumpers and showed a bit of promise in two runs, especially on his debut where he finished third of 13 runners.
He was then given a bumper entry a couple of weeks ago at Killarney, where he was going quite well but his saddle slipped which sent him sideways, and he ended up second.
He may not have won the race, but without that trouble he’d have been a lot closer than 11 lengths – and this appears to be a good opportunity to put things right for jockey Maxine O’Sullivan.
What Path is also worth a mention and is the early market leader around 7/2 for Willie and Patrick Mullins. He’s yet to win in three attempts but has been getting closer and hit 1/3 in-running before finishing second to Howaya C D And E in a bumper at Downpatrick last month.