Thursday 22 August 2019

Galway Races: All the top tips from our team of experts

It's day five at the Galway Races
It's day five at the Galway Races
Joseph O’Brien. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Always one of the most lively days from a social perspective, the action on the track at Ballybrit today certainly doesn't disappoint either with a series of valuable handicap puzzles for punters to solve.

The Guinness Handicap is the feature on day five with an ultra-competitive field - including some making their second appearance of the week and hoping for better luck - bidding to land the €120,000 pot.

5.10 Guinness Galway Tribes Handicap Hurdle 2m11yds

Tom Mullins has won the last two runnings of this and has an outstanding candidate in Bercasa, which landed an emphatic course-and-distance win here on Wednesday when dominating from the front.

A 7lb penalty for this €80,000 contest shouldn't hinder the progressive four-year-old - ridden by the trainer's son, David - and it is a real family affair with Emmet Mullins saddling St Stephens Green.

Emmet has proved himself a master at having one ready for such a prize and with St Stephens Green making the top three in his three runs at Galway - including a win here 12 months ago - his return to hurdling could be a winning one having blown some cobwebs away on the flat in June.

Of the others, Steve Mahon's Stormey can make the frame again having finished second over fences earlier this week while Denis Hogan's Kerosin is an interesting contender at the bottom end of the handicap and the 92-rated flat performer is open to huge improvement over hurdles.

Verdict: St Stephens Green can edge the Mullins family battle.

5.45 James' Gate Irish Median Auction Maiden 7f 2yo

Dermot Weld has won three of the last seven renewals and relies on Kassaba - which has a length and a half to find on Aidan O'Brien's Santiago from their Leopardstown meeting - but should take a big step forward.

The same can be said of Santiago, however, after losing little in defeat when second at the Foxrock track two weeks ago and he should improve steadily for his debut like most Ballydoyle juveniles.

Favourites have an outstanding record in this with four of the last five obliging and Jessica Harrington's Alpine Star is likely to head the market with the Moone handler's two-year-olds in scintillating form.

The form of her debut when third behind O'Brien's Love at Leopardstown has been franked several times by those in front and behind and the Sea The Moon filly is the one to beat.

Verdict: Shane Foley can shine brightest on Alpine Star.

6.15 Galway Blazers Handicap Chase 2m6f111yds

There's a long short-list with many of the 18 going to post in this €80,000 contest in with a realistic shout.

Five course-and-distance winners take their chance with Mahon's Aranhill Chief - third in the Galway Plate Trial at Limerick three weeks ago - possibly the most interesting one at huge odds off bottom weight.

As seen already this week, significant market support for any of the JP McManus-owned quartet of Tesseract and Treasure Chest (both trained by Joseph O'Brien) as well as Riviera Sun (Henry De Bromhead) and Hash Brown (Michael Hourigan) should be duly noted.

Gordon Elliott runs four with Midlands National fourth Ned Stark possibly best equipped to trouble the judge, while Gavin Cromwell's Top Of The Charts hosed up at Wexford and Perth already this summer and is open to further improvement for Jonathan Moore off a lowly weight.

Verdict: Festival regular Aranhill Chief looks (e/w) overpriced.

6.50 Guinness Handicap 1m4f

Willie Mullins has taken three of the last five renewals of today's feature and Mr Adjudicator has an outstanding chance having not had much luck in running when sent off favourite in the GPT on Monday.

This is extremely competitive, however, with Harrington's Camphor scooting home in the Ulster Oaks and there may be a lot more to come from the Camelot filly, which has had just four career starts.

John Murphy's War Diary landed the valuable Ragusa Handicap and is open to further improvement while Aidan O'Brien's Il Paradiso - outclassed in the Irish Derby before turning a Curragh handicap into a procession - can be competitive despite carrying a hefty weight on board.

Joseph O'Brien's Arthurian Fame is also burdened with top-weight having not enjoyed a smooth passage when finishing in midfield at Royal Ascot last time out but he landed a good prize at Leopardstown before that and should be on the scene.

Stablemate King's Vow is preferred, though. A close second in the Ulster Derby - fourth-place Halimi has franked the form since scoring twice including around here earlier this week - Gary Halpin's mount can defy inexperience to score.

Verdict: King's Vow can take the crown under Halpin.

7.25 Guinness Irish EBF Fillies Maiden 1m4f

Weld has won three of the five renewals with the trio all scoring at odds-on and Hazel Bay is likely to go off at similarly prohibitive odds.

Still a maiden after five runs, the Iffraaj filly has some outstanding form in the book and is twice a runner-up at Listed level so that will make the 93-rated four-year-old a popular choice for punters.

It's a worry that she hasn't been able to get her head in front, however, in the two maidens which she has contested but something will have to take a decent step forward to deny her this time around.

Aidan O'Brien's Invitation looks the most likely to do so with the step up to 12 furlongs sure to suit the daughter of Galileo, but it is still hard to see beyond a Weld winner while the 5lb allowance of apprentice Ben Coen is another positive .

Verdict: Hazel Bay can finally get her head in front.

7.55 Arthur Guinness Handicap 1m98yds 3yo

Punters should proceed with caution in a wide-open 17-runner affair where each-way stakes may prove the sensible option given the level of improvement which several of those engaged are capable of.

Cafe Con Leche has shown plenty of promise in maidens for Denis Hogan and is a particularly interesting prospect on his handicap debut while Cromwell's Bajan Excell falls into a similar category.

Dare To Flare just got up to score at Fairyhouse and a 5lb penalty shouldn't halt his gallop with Andrew Slattery's charge expected to make the frame again under Coen.

Joseph O'Brien's Rehoboth Beach was fourth at Killarney and seems to be edging closer to victory but Cafe Con Leche may be the one with most potential to step forward significantly and Derby-winning jockey Seamie Heffernan can steer him home.

Verdict: Cafe Con Leche can score on his handicap bow.

8.25 Rockshore Apple Cider Race 1m6f14yds

No horse priced bigger than 3/1 has prevailed in the last decade of this contest given the race conditions and Harrington looks certain to have a short-priced jolly with The King set to go off at skimpy odds.

While rated 107 - 11lb clear of his nearest rival - the son of Mastercraftsman is worryingly 11 races without a win with many fingers burnt along the way.

Willie Mullins has landed the last three runnings but isn't represented, although nephew Emmet is with Sneaky Getaway hoping to build on his Leopardstown maiden win when putting Elliott's smart hurdler Chosen Mate to the sword.

The Getaway gelding isn't favoured by race conditions, however, and Morga may be the one to turn over the favourite. Second in this behind the brilliant Wicklow Brave last year and with Listed place form to her name, Des McDonogh's charge can cause a minor upset in the hands of Kevin Manning.

Verdict: Morga is best placed to usurp The King in the last.


5.10: Bercasa

5.45: Alpine Star

6.15: Top of the Charts

6.50: King's Vow

7.25: Hazel Bay

7.55: Cafe Con Leche

8.25: The King


5.10: Light That

5.45: Agent Zero

6.15: Mindsmadeup

6.50: Mr Adjudicator

7.25: Invitation

7.55: Belle Cora

8.25: The King


5.10: Lever Du Soleil

5.45: Alpine Star

6.15: Tesseract

6.50: Mr Adjudicator

7.25: Hazel Bay

7.55: Dare To Flare

8.25: The King

Indo Sport

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport