Saturday 24 March 2018

Galway 2017 - All your Day Five top tips as the action in Ballybrit continues


Johnny Ward

Get all your top tips for Day Five of the Galway Festival from our top team of experts.


The Friday offering at Galway has become an extremely popular meeting - with a far greater attendance than the iconic Galway Plate card on the Wednesday - and the atmosphere there makes it perhaps the most enjoyable fixture of the week.

Thursday is too crowded for many, Saturday and Sunday too serene. Friday fits nicely in the middle and having both the Galway Blazers and a Premier Handicap over 12 furlongs makes the fixture quite appealing to racing fans and punters too.

With the weather reasonably favourable by Galway standards so far this week, attendances have been healthy, and a whopping 27,093 people were in the enclosure for this evening's race meeting last year - that is around 10,000 more than attended Plate day two days ago.

Floating voters with little else but access to the results of the week and whispers will be apt to follow Willie Mullins blindly - rodents to the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

With Tuesday's Mile winner Riven Light expected to be seen later in the week, Mullins is also true to his word and Monday's hero Whiskey Sour togs out again.

Riven Light's rider Declan McDonogh takes over on Whiskey Sour, which is officially well-handicapped as he runs under a penalty but must carry a greater weight from next week onwards.

Mullins runs five tonight and looks a certainty to justify initial quotes of odds-on for the Galway champion trainer award. It will be fascinating to see how Pat Smullen gets on aboard the stable's quirky Renneti in the nightcap.

This fixture has been especially kind in recent campaigns to the excellent Tony Martin. He has eight runners this evening, using six different jockeys.

5.10 Guinness Handicap Hurdle 2m 11yds

Tony Martin bids for three successive wins in this, Vive La France having scored in 2015 and subsequent Melbourne Cup runner-up Heartbreak City proving especially well-in 12 months ago.

Golden Spear would have a chance at his best, while Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins team up with Tay Lane, which joined the barn after a 33/1 romp at Tipperary. She was a bit disappointing at Sligo but remains quite inexperienced and should go well.

The four-year-old Zanjabeel would appear to be the Gordon Elliott first-string and he is a consistent sort which merits a second look.

However, a chance is taken on Ceide Fields, which ran very well here twice last season for Steve Mahon, notably third in a maiden to Presenting Percy. New headgear may be the difference for the gelding, which was a shade disappointing on his first start for Elliott at Ballinrobe.

Verdict: Ceide Fields

5.45 Guinness 17:59 Irish EBF Median Auction Maiden 7f

Jim Bolger has had a quiet week but his wife Jackie's colours could be worn to glory in the form of Warm The Voice for Brendan Duke.

A son of Vocalised, he was understandably a little green at Leopardstown lately when a 50/1 chance, but he ran a blinder to go down by around a length and a half, and he may not need to do much better to win this.

Pat Smullen rides Militry Decoration for Michael O'Callaghan, a couple of whose horses have attracted notable market support this week, but he has a nice bit of improvement to find after a fair debut offering recently at the Curragh.

Joseph O'Brien's Break Spring is a filly that has shown enough to be considered, while Andrew Slattery has had some success with the sire Rip Van Winkle and Rip Rocks Paddy Ok is a noted newcomer under Declan McDonogh.

Verdict: Warm The Voice

6.15 Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase 2m 6f 111yds

This could be a big evening for the Tony Martin barn and Phil's Magic makes plenty of appeal here. He was a pretty classy hurdler for Sandra Hughes, notably winning a Listed novice event at the expense of Prince Of Scars in 2015, and the chances are that the seven-year-old is well-treated.

He had been running well before landing a gamble in the Midlands National and dropping back in trip on this easier ground looks a positive if anything.

The Galway Plate team of Davy Russell and Henry De Bromhead combine with On Fiddlers Green, also a seven-year-old on the up, yet it will not be easy giving weight to all in this company.

JP McManus has a formidable hand. Barry Geraghty is the rider of De Bromhead's Riviera Sun, which was a 10/1 chance when unseating behind Phil's Magic at Kilbeggan. Michael Hourigan's The Gatechecker appeals as the type for which cheekpieces will suit, while Sir Jack Yeats has place claims.

Verdict: Phil's Magic

6.50 Guinness Handicap 1m 4f

Whiskey Sour was a revelation in winning the two-mile feature on Monday evening under Aubrey McMahon when, as a previous course winner over seven furlongs, the funereal pace seemed to play perfectly to his main assets.

He was able to quicken impressively and dropping back to this trip ought to be no issue, though the draw in 15 is not what he would have wanted. He is on a hat-trick and difficult to oppose but this is not a bad race.

Haripour is very well-bred - a half-brother to Harzand - but a risky proposition here, while Tony Martin runs Moonmeister, The Moore Factor, Sweet Company and The Plan Man as he attempts a third win in this in four renewals.

The Plan Man has been running quite well and the trip combined with soft ground could see a career-best effort; certainly on hurdles form his mark is reasonable.

Sweet Company comes into the picture after getting in as a reserve on Monday evening and shaping well, with Danny Sheehy fine value for this 7lb claim.

The Montjeu-bred Fiesole has been in excellent shape for Eoin Doyle this summer. He has a lot more on his plate here but does not look out of place in a Premier Handicap. Nor does Mawaany, which has place claims despite a poor draw.

Verdict: The Plan Man

7.25 Guinness Irish EBF Fillies Maiden 1m 4f

Dermot Weld has a nice sort on his hands in Muniza and she has a notable Aga Khan pedigree here. She is a half-sister to both Mourilyan and Mourad and her debut effort at the Curragh must be lauded. On pedigree, she should certainly get this mile and a half, though she did not seem to be crying out for it at the Curragh.

Declan McDonogh had the choice between two horses which ran at Roscommon last time - Dawn Choir and Flaming Sea - and perhaps unsurprisingly chose the former. She is a progressive daughter of Fastnet Rock and has solid claims.

Also worth noting is High Language, which ran over shorter at Gowran but performed really well at a big price. Lady Nathaniel is another to consider.

Verdict: Muniza

7.55 Arthur Guinness Handicap 1m 98yds

Quite a number of these have not been helped by the draw, notably Greenpanda, which seems to have been transformed by a switch to front-running and is not reliant on getting it easy up front.

Her victory at Ballinrobe bodes favourably for this track's demands, while she ran a blinder since at Bellewstown too when the ground may have been quicker than ideal. Much depends on how the first furlong or two goes.

This is one of the toughest races of the week and the market will be a guide for on-course punters, who should play small stakes. Sheila Lavery has been among the Galway victors and supplies both Desert Dancer and Empress Lyla, which have reasonable draws and could not be ruled out. Adrian Keatley also attempts to record another Galway winner, this time with Cosy Club.

Verdict: Greenpanda

8.25 Budweiser Race 1m 6f 14yds

Renneti is a complex character. It is said that he is so tricky at the tape or gates that he must hack down to the start in the same direction as the race will be taking place; in other words if the horses are going right-handed in the race, he must join them at the start after going down to the start right-handed, even if that takes longer.

He generally does jump off and if he consents here he has the class to prevail, but Willie Mullins' other runner, Digeanta, is more reliable, and his fourth in the feature here on Monday night clearly brings him into the reckoning. He seems to be coming to hand after a layoff.

Digeanta has an edge on Benkei on that form but Benkei had a slightly messy trip in that contest when notably well-backed. Trip and ground are fine and he looks liable to give a good account.

Nine runners mean each-way places are favourable and Vigil would be up to winning this at his best for Dermot Weld, but his runners have yet to fire this week. The old boy Ted Veale attempts to roll back the years on his first run in 373 days for County Donegal rider Oisin Orr.

He was second to Swamp Fox in the feature of the Monday meet last year, while he was a close third in that race two years ago before filling that spot behind Quick Jack in the Galway Hurdle three days later. This, however, is probably asking too much - even for Tony Martin!

Verdict: Benkei

Our expert's tips


5.10 Tay Lane

5.45 Warm The Voice

6.15 Phil's Magic

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 High Language

7.55 Cosy Club

8.25 Renneti


5.10 Ceide Fields

5.45 Warm The Voice

6.15 Phil's Magic (nap)

6.50 The Plan Man

7.25 Muniza

7.55 Greenpanda

8.25 Benkei


5.10 Zafayan

5.45 Warm The Voice

6.15 The Gatechecker

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 Muniza

7.55 Empress Lyla

8.25 Vigil


5.10 Camlann

5.45 Krispen

6.15 On Fiddlers Green

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 High Language

7.55 Empress Lyla

8.25 Digeanta


5.10 Zanjabeel

5.45 Warm The Voice

6.15 On Fiddlers Green

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 Dawn Choir

7.55 Greenpanda

8.25 Digeanta


5.10 Light That

5.45 Break Spring

6.15 Phil's Magic

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 Flaming Sea

7.55 Cosy Club

8.25 Renneti


5.10 Camlann

5.45 Krispen

6.15 Top Of The Town

6.50 Whiskey Sour

7.25 Dawn Choir

7.55 Greenpanda

8.25 Ted Veale

Irish Independent

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