Galway Races: Richard Forristal's tips for day four
The material fallout of The Real Article's controversial defeat at Tipperary last Sunday week was crystallised yesterday when the final declarations were revealed for today's Guinness Galway Hurdle.
As ever, the two-mile showpiece has all the makings of a thrilling spectacle, with 20 runners set to fight it out for the €156,600 winner's prize.
However, if the senior handicapper Noel O'Brien, a man renowned for his shrewd race-reading abilities, is right, then The Real Article has 18lbs to spare over 18 of those rivals.
More than that, though, is the extent of the advantage that the Edward O'Grady-trained gelding enjoys in direct relation to his Tipperary conqueror Captain Cee Bee.
Beaten a short-head that day by the dual Grade One winner when conceding four pounds, The Real Article is ostensibly a massive 23lbs better off here.
With O'Grady opting to retain the services of his conditional rider Paddy Mangan, who was at the centre of the controversy 11 days ago, rather than his stable jockey Andrew McNamara, that advantage rises to an eye-watering 28lbs.
In light of such anomalies, it will be fascinating to see how the race develops, as theoretical handicap good things often flounder.
Then again, few have ever had such a vast amount in hand, so don't be surprised if Mangan, who was instructed not to use his whip at Tipperary, needs only to rely on his hands and heels once more.
As for the remainder of the opposition, the 2009 winner Bahrain Storm and Dirar, second and third respectively 12 months ago, are again engaged. Should the top-weight Bahrain Storm defect following his exertions in yesterday's Galway Plate, the weights would go up by four pounds.
Needless to say, that would affect some more than others.
1.50 Perfect Pint
This is a tricky affair. Daffern Seal has run just twice, but impressed when cantering up on his hurdling debut at Kilbeggan in June.
He is clearly a horse of some potential.
The once-prolific Mr Nosie ran well to be second to Sweeps Hill in May but is a bit hit and miss these days.
There is probably little to choose between the remainder, with maybe Traffic Article, which finished second behind Darenjan at Killarney, one of the better prospects.
Verdict -- Daffern Seal to oblige on his fencing debut.
2.25 Guinness Summer Series Novice Chase
Plenty of smart performers line out here. Alpine Eagle has scored comprehensively on his last two outings, as has the English challenger Black Jack Blues.
Down In Neworleans had some respectable hurdling form, and did little wrong on his chasing debut at Roscommon. St Devote, well beaten last time, may be happier over this minimum distance.
Air Chief and Darenjan must also enter calculations. Darenjan is a previous dual Festival winner, and landed a fair beginners' event on his chasing debut at Killarney.
Verdict -- Darenjan appeals around a course he loves.
3.0 Guinness Time Handicap
Ted Dolly makes a quick reappearance after keeping on gamely to be third over seven furlongs on Tuesday. A return to a mile should help his cause.
Rock Critic won here last year before doubling up at Naas. He hasn't run since September, but cannot be discounted.
Barrow Island and Solent Ridge are two others that have been running well. The latter finished second to Tuesday's winner, Iron Major, on his latest start at Dundalk.
Verdict -- Ted Dolly might overcome a poor draw.
3.35 Arthur Guinness EBF Fillies' Handicap
Anam Allta is unexposed. She won a maiden on her second start last term, and ran a blinder to be third in a quality handicap at The Curragh on her seasonal bow.
Gossamer Seed, Core Element, Allegra Tak and Colour Of Love are the pick of the rest. Fifth in a Listed race last time, Gossamer Seed's burden is eased by her claimer.
Allegra Tak, second to Gossamer Seed at Sligo in June, is effectively six pounds worse off with that one now but has won two of her last three starts.
Core Element and Colour Of Love are also in great shape but may, however, be in the grip of the handicapper.
Verdict -- Anam Allta is the nap selection.
4.10 Arthur Guinness Fund Novice Hurdle
Safari Sunup comes here on a three-timer but this is a step up. Datokepe has also won twice of late, most recently when sluicing up at Kilbeggan in May over three miles.
Bideford Legend is the highest-rated runner but has been around a while. Endless Intrigue, a winner here on the Flat in 2010, must enter calculations, having shown some reasonable form over flights in the winter.
House Rules and Tavern Times will appreciate the two-and-a-half-mile trip. The latter, which had Tuesday's winner Princeton Plains behind when second at Sligo, has often appeared very smart.
Verdict -- Tavern Times could excel over this distance.
The Real Article is thrown in at the weights. If that advantage translates in reality, he could win at his ease, but a question mark remains as to whether he is ready for the hustle and bustle that he will encounter here.
Course specialist Bahrain Storm will have it to do under a welter burden if he turns out for a second day in a row.
Gordon Elliott's Dirar, a half a length behind Bahrain Storm when third here last year, wasn't beaten far on his only subsequent hurdling start at Cheltenham in March. He has been kept ticking over for this on the Flat.
Despite Captain Cee Bee being wrong with The Real Article, he is otherwise well treated over flights, and may be sharper for his Tipperary win. He should run well, as should Hidden Universe. That Grade One bumper winner gets in off just 10st 7lb.
Verdict -- Dirar appeals as the most reliable option.
5.30 Arthur's Legacy Handicap
Teach Nua is of some appeal coming from Dermot Weld's stable. He won here over hurdles two years ago, but hasn't shown much in three Flat starts since. Norah Starr is enjoying a fine season but has a big burden. Johnnys Legacy also has plenty to carry with 9st 13lb, though he has been threatening to win all year.
Verdict -- Johnnys Legacy is due a rub of the green.
6.05 Guinness Storehouse Flat Race
Second to Samain in January, Cairdin has the best form on offer. He ran poorly next time, but returned to something close to his best when second at Roscommon in May.
Brough Academy was second on his racecourse debut at Downpatrick, while Law Rebel and Sids Choice are two others that have shown some level of ability.
Verdict -- Cairdin sets the standard in this.