The Galway Hurdle has been very good to me in recent years, but unfortunately, there’s no room at the inn for me on any of Willie’s runners this year, so I’ll be watching on from the sidelines.
The County Hurdle and Coral Cup combined are worth less than the Guinness-sponsored Galway Hurdle, which is an incredible thought. As always, it provides a fascinating puzzle and is fiercely competitive.
We run four in a bid to keep the trophy in Closutton. Paul Townend has picked Adamantly Chosen with a degree of certainty. Lightly raced and open to improvement. He only broke his maiden on his third attempt and then had his first taste of handicap company at Cheltenham, where he learned a lot about rough and tumble.
He then went to Punchestown for another valuable handicap and things did not go to plan. He got shuffled back and pinned down the rail. By the time he got out, the race was all over. He did well to run into fourth in the circumstances.
However, the experience gained there will stand to him today, and with a slice of luck, he could give Paul a second Galway Hurdle, 14 years after Indian Pace for John Kiely.
Farout gave himself a hard race on Monday, which hasn’t done him any favours today, while Shewearsitwell has plenty of weight for a mare, even with Jack Foley claiming three pounds.
Heia has a nice weight down near the bottom and could pick up some prizemoney. Outside of ours, My Mate Mozzie catches the eye. I won a bumper on him in Punchestown two years ago and he gave me the feel of a good horse. A mark of 141 could underestimate him and I expect him to be dangerous.
The Grade Three Novice Chase provides an exciting clash. All seven have won last time out over fences. Sole Pretender is the highest rated over hurdles with a mark of 150 for Norman Lee’s stable star. His catch-me-if-you-can tactics are always absorbing viewing and he seems to fence very sharply, meaning he could well be a better chaser than hurdler even.
Ganapathi was slightly disappointing over hurdles, where we always thought he was capable of winning a big pot, but it never materialised. He appreciates nice ground and should win plenty more races, but I fear he’ll find it too hard to peg back the front-running Sole Pretender.
Hors Piste looks to have found a great opportunity in the novice hurdle. She almost slipped the field in a Grade One at Fairyhouse and was only caught late on by Brandy Love and Love Envoi. While that form flatters her, she looks well in here at the weights and should take beating.
In the bumper, we’re hoping What Path can make it fourth time lucky. He whipped around on me when the tape flew back in Fairyhouse so you can draw a line through that run.
His run in Ballinrobe was perhaps better than it looked as the winner and fourth have won since and then he didn’t handle the Alton Towers-like undulations in Downpatrick last time when second.
Galway has its own ups and downs, but they are more straightforward than Downpatrick, which makes even Tom Cruise’s mission in Top Gun look basic. The extended trip here of two miles two furlongs will suit and I think he can complete the sequence of third, second, first.
2.45 Sole Pretender
5.05 Adamantly Chosen
6.10 What Path