Sunday 18 March 2018

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


Davy Russell drives on Balko Des Flos to win the Galway Plate. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

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


The richest hurdle race in Europe, incredibly, takes place at a summer track in Ireland. Welcome all to the Guinness Galway Hurdle this afternoon.

A cracking field lines up and one of the many notable subplots is the Bryan Cooper situation, after he lost the role as retained rider to Gigginstown last weekend. The plus side of this is he can turn down The Game Changer today and instead ride for Gordon Elliott aboard Automated, which is quietly fancied to go well.

At the same time, Cooper looks likely to have the pick of the Gigginstown runners - at least most of the time. Last Friday's news could be just what he needed.

With Willie Mullins having snared the big race on day one and the big race on day two, both Flat events, it is nearly expected that he will record back-to-back wins in the Hurdle today. He has four of the field, with Ruby Walsh riding former Melbourne Cup and Hurdle runner-up Max Dynamite.

JP McManus loves this €300,000 race and managed to get six into the declared 20 who made the cut. Thomas Edison is a previous winner, the mount of Davy Russell, who has won the Galway Hurdle twice as a rider.

McManus had the opening race winner on both Monday and Tuesday, with principal Irish ally Joseph O'Brien in excellent form. O'Brien has a fine book of horses today, and seems to be targetting Galway already in his young and intriguing career as a dual-code trainer.

1.40 Guinness Galway Gold Beginners Chase 2m 6f 111yds

Only one favourite from the last 10 has won this race and the 2017 renewal is not the most appealing either. Gigginstown runs two horses here and punters have to decide if, as would have been the case a week ago, Bryan Cooper still would have had the choice over Davy Russell between Just Cause, which Cooper rides, and Ballela Boy.

Ballela Boy showed plenty of stamina when winning at Down Royal over hurdles in May; he ran better than the bare detail behind Rathvinden since.

A notable aspect of this contest is that Barry Geraghty has no ride. It seems that he is easing his way back to full combat, since JP McManus has two runners in Oathkeeper and Tesseract. Neither can be ruled out.

Fly Rory Fly has an edge over Balella Boy on Wexford running and his jumping, despite a previous Clonmel fall, is safe enough.

Verdict: Ballela Boy

2.15 Grade Three Guinness Open Gate Brewery Novice Chase 2m 2f 54yds

This is a smart novice heat, befitting a Grade Three, and Townshend has gone on a remarkable run, after which he is penalised most here and must give weight away - indeed he has to concede 18lb to Landofhopeandglory. Rated 146, and giving 3lb to the well-fancied Don't Touch It, he may be a shade vulnerable, though his jumping is ultra-slick.

Like many by Scorpion, Don't Touch It has his kinks, so how will the hill suit? He has his share of class, as a Grade One winner over hurdles. Peregrine Run is an excellent jumper and his transition to chasing from hurdling has been seamless.

The extra emphasis on staying prowess here is going to suit him. It is a sign of the strength of this race that Potters Point is in form and rated 132, yet available at 20/1.

Landofhopeandglory flew the flag for juvenile hurdlers early on last season and performed well at Cheltenham. He is a decent jumper, as he should be given his size, and he may offer some value under Jody McGarvey.

Verdict: Landofhopeandglory

2.50 Guinness Draught Handicap 1m 98yds

Tony Martin has two interesting runners here. Beau Et Sublime wants farther, while Clonard Street is a course-and-distance winner - that came on his debut at two when with John McConnell.

He was then bought by JP McManus, to some fanfare. He has not won a single race since, yet he was second in the Beresford on his second run and he is the greatest certainty since Fidelma tried it on with Miley on that form.

Martin's former employee Gordon Elliott provides the likeable Knockmaole Boy, which ground it out here on Tuesday and may follow up, but this is a tougher race. Remarkable Lady was well-placed to win at Ballinrobe, but has more on here.

Total Demolition is another course-and-trip winner which is fine on easy ground. He is well drawn, but generally breaks poorly. However, at a big price it might be worth chancing him as he has knocked on the door this season and will stay on well up the hill.

Verdict: Total Demolition

3.25 Listed Arthur Guinness Irish Ebf Corrib Fillies Stakes 7f

With a rating of 104, it was crazy on the face of it that Raymonda was 16/1 in a seven-horse race at Fairyhouse last time, probably a reflection of the modest enough form of the Weld barn at the time, but she ran a nice race, and should be good enough here if the ground is not an issue. It is a potential one on paper.

The Lohnro-bred has this in the bag at the ratings, though it is a huge field size for a race of its type. Music Box stayed on very nicely at Naas behind Only Mine and seems to love her racing. Orangey Red is 10lb worse off with Raymonda than if this were a handicap, yet probably more likely to run her race for Bill Farrell.

Only one horse of these has a three-figure mark. Groundfrost is rated just 84, yet she is consistent and not ruled out in a trappy race.

Verdict: Raymonda

4.00 Guinness Novice Hurdle 2m 4f 157yds

A smart little race and Lac Kivu makes lock appeal. Patrick Mullins singled him out for a mention prior to the Festival - and no surprise, given the four-year-old's win at Punchestown. He is by Sakhee but stays well and he should beat stablemate Robin Des Foret in receipt of a stone.

The Elliott-trained pair, Dorans River and Its All Guesswork, need more in this class. Bhutan could yet make a really smart hurdler and is a fascinating runner for a barn in form.

Verdict: Lac Kivu

4.35 Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap 2m 11yds

Few surprises in terms of the 20 that made the cut and Timiyan sneaks in, with Aidan Coleman steering. A course winner for Dermot Weld, his Flat form is so good that he should continue to improve over hurdles, and he looks very interesting, though he may not want it to rain any more.

Barry Geraghty could not do the weight on Timiyan, but perhaps he would have chosen Tigris River - which ran well in the race last year - in any event.

He has been in fine form, but connections' decision to run him at Bellewstown, which meant a 2lb rise for his win, could yet backfire!

Airlie Beach is quite an interesting sort off 141 for a Royal Bond winner, but it is no surprise that Ruby Walsh picks Max Dynamite, which was second in the 2015 renewal. He must be well-handicapped, but he has not run in a long time.

A wind operation and the use of 7lb claimer James Bowen brings The Game Changer into the argument at huge odds, while Bryan Cooper's new role means he can turn down Gigginstown and ride Automated for Gordon Elliott.

Verdict: Timiyan

5.15 Guinness Harp Handicap 1m 4f

Punters are advised to have a deep look at one of the most capativating punting races of the week. Four each-way places encourage each-way speculation and a strong case can be made for some of these.

Take Usa, trained locally by Steve Mahon, who has won over farther at Ballinrobe recently, but was able to go close over an extended mile on Tuesday evening and is now running off the same mark, so the plus-marks abound.

Take Camlann, the owners of which - the Mee family - love a Galway winner more than most. His form in handicap hurdles since the start of March is 21213, running off 127 at Killarney recently in a good race, and it seems impossible that he is not well-treated off 65. He is drawn low and Pat Smullen has agreed to steer.

Take Blue Skimmer, which has come down quite a bit in the hierarchy since initially assessed. Connections are bullish about his chances and Wayne Lordan is booked on ground that has come in his favour - but there is a little doubt about his really staying the mile and a half here.

Papal Motel continues knocking on the door, and Shamar is another one to note from a small County Armagh stable; as such, often underestimated in the market, he can be a value pick.

Go back two years and another small yard, that of Liam Cusack, took this with Bog War. He had a messy trip then and, fine on the ground and after a little break, makes plenty of appeal under Tuam native Leigh Roche.

Verdict: Bog War

6.00 Guinness West Indies Porter Flat Race 2m 2f 59yds

One of the lesser races today, there are poor each-way conditions for punters and the form on offer is modest enough for the Festival. Moreover, neither Willie Mullins nor Gordon Elliott - who tend to dominate bumpers - has an entry.

Perhaps Willie's nephew Emmet can come up with the solution in the shape of the Court Cave-bred Peacocks Secret. He finished third at Kilbeggan, while his third at Punchestown behind Simonsig's half-sister Simone has been given a subsequent form boost. He did not do much wrong at Wexford on soft ground since and that may suffice here.

All Good Things comes into the argument. He was quite well-held in third at Punchestown in late May, yet there should be improvement there.

Verdict: Peacocks Secret

Our expert's tips


1.40 Tesseract

2.15 Townshend

2.50 Clonard Street

3.25 Raymonda

4.00 Lac Kivu

4.35 Max Dynamite

5.15 Invisible Dog

6.00 Peacocks Secret


1.40 Ballela Boy

2.15 Landofhopeandglory

2.50 Total Demolition

3.25 Raymonda

4.00 Lac Kivu (nap)

4.35 Timiyan

5.15 Bog War

6.00 Peacocks Secret


1.40 Dont Tell No One

2.15 Townshend

2.50 Knockmaole Boy

3.25 Music Box

4.00 Lac Kivu

4.35 Airlie Beach

5.15 Shamar

6.00 All Good Things


1.40 A Rated

2.15 Townshend

2.50 Remarkable Lady

3.25 Music Box

4.00 Lac Kivu

4.35 Max Dynamite

5.15 Lucca

6.00 Peacocks Secret


1.40 Jeannot De Nonant

2.15 Townshend

2.50 Tribal Path

3.25 Alphabet

4.00 Lac Kivu (nap)

4.35 Max Dynamite

5.15 Camlann

6.00 All Good Things


1.40 Jeannot De Nonant

2.15 Peregrine Run

2.50 Knockmaole Boy

3.25 Drumfad Boy

4.00 Lac Kivu

4.35 Western Boy

5.15 Papal Motel

6.00 Peacocks Secret


1.40 Tesseract

2.15 Townshend

2.50 Knockmaole Boy

3.25 Music Box

4.00 Lac Kivu

4.35 Tigris River

5.15 Camlann

6.00 Peacocks Secret

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