This will be my 15th attempt to try and win the most valuable amateur race in the calendar. Like a paper cut in the corner of my mouth, it does niggle. But Sir Gordon Richards needed 28 tries to win the Epsom Derby, I tell myself, so on we go again.
Weight seems to be the major factor in this race. Only once in the past twenty years has the winner carried more than 11st1lb, Robbie McNamara on Ghimaar in 2009, but Robbie was always capable of things others aren’t.
Echoes In Rain has 11st 3lbs, so near the threshold. I like her profile, a Grade One performer over hurdles who is unexposed on the flat. She had a nice run on the Curragh when finishing second and we’ve been very happy with her work at home.
She used to be keen but with more racing, she has settled better and we’ve decided to leave the hood off her, like we did when she was second to Honeysuckle at Punchestown.
I think her strong travelling style will suit this race, but we are drawn in the car park so we will need a slice of luck. She is definitely better than her mark of 87 and I think, I hope, I pray she might be the one to add this famous old race to my CV.
Willie has found this race much luckier than me, winning it three times. Aubrey McMahon has won it twice and was a close second last year so his mount Whiskey Sour must be taken seriously. They combined to win this race five years ago off an 11lb lower mark though so it won’t be easy for them.
Derek O’Connor comes in to ride Aubrey’s second string, who is only 3lb higher than when second here last year. He should not be discounted at a big price.
We have a fascinating contender in Lot of Joy. A tall, scopey filly with a big white blaze down her face, she won the Swedish St Leger before we bought her.
This is a tough place to start her Irish career and a mark of 92 is steep enough but her work suggests she will be involved and she is worth keeping an eye on going forward. We also have a Swedish jockey, Elliot Ohgren, riding Maze Runner for us so unusually the Scandinavians are well represented here.
But Jody Townend rides Farout, who ticks all the boxes for me. He gets in right at the bottom of the weights, is unexposed on the flat, has won around Galway and has plenty of experience in big fields.
His draw in three is perhaps not ideal as eight of the last 10 winners have been drawn in the centre but Whiskey Sour did win drawn three five years ago so it can be done.
We run three in the bumper and I have chosen Buckhill. Bred and owned by my uncle and aunt, he is a horse I like a lot. He shows plenty at home and I’m expecting a big run out of him.
A short, compact type, I think he will suit Galway’s undulations well. Rocco Ray has ability but he races lazily so we are hoping the Galway atmosphere will light him up.
The Twelve Pins has probably the best Galway pedigree in the book being a sister to Blackstairsmounain, Purple Mountain, Mt Leinster, Diamond Hill and Fugi Mountain, who all won at the Galway Festival.
She is a big danger, whilst This Songisforyou has a very fast pedigree. Nevertheless I’m hopeful Buckhill can help us finish the start of Galway week with a winner. Let the games begin.
5.10 HMS Seahorse