Carlingford one step from spot in Galway showpiece
Carlingford Lough, one of three co-favourites for next Thursday's Guinness Galway Hurdle, needs just a single scratching from the 20 horses above him in the weights to get into the €260,000 showpiece following yesterday's latest raft of declarations.
Trained by Dungarvan's John Kiely, who has triumphed in the feature twice before, the JP McManus-owned six-year-old has won three of his five hurdle starts, including a handicap at the Ballybrit Festival in 2011. A ready scorer at Bellewstown recently, he is as low as 8/1 clear favourite with some firms, and his place in the final line-up, in which he currently has 10st 3lb, looks almost guaranteed, though fellow market leaders Rebel Fitz (11st 5lb) and Lexi's Boy (10st 6lb) are assured their places already.
Brendan Duke's in-form Mister Benedictine (10st 3lb) needs two to come out if he's to get in, while Tony Mullins' prolific Clarach is now expected to skip Monday evening's amateur riders' event after making the cut for the Hurdle. The last one on the 64-strong list sure to get in, Clarach will carry 10st 4lb if top-weight The Real Article lines off 11st 10lb.
All the market leaders have made the cut for thetote.com Galway Plate 24 hours earlier, with Follow The Plan (11st 10lb) and Mostly Bob (9st 9lb), the first and last of the 42 remaining entries assured a place in the final 22.
Kiely's Wise Old Owl (10st 12lb), second last year, is 12/1 to go one better this time, with Willie Mullins, whose 2011 heroine Blazing Tempo (11st 3lb) is again engaged, responsible for the 7/1 favourite Blackstairmountain (10st 11lb).
In Tuesday's €115,000 Topaz Mile, Custom Cut, winner of its last four for Tramore-based George Kent, is the highest rated of the 20 entries that were made for the race yesterday.
There are two possible English contenders, with Ed De Giles confirming Spa's Dancer, second in a valuable handicap at the Curragh on Derby weekend, an intended starter.