Mullins to continue his dominance with Lagos
Willie Mullins' decision to keep winter horses in training with a view to Galway has paid off and he attacks today's feature with a competitive quartet.
The Closutton maestro won this contest for the first time 20 years ago when Welsh Grit took the bounty under a promising teenager called Ruby Walsh. Subsequent wins went to the stable's Diego Garcia, Call Me Bubbles, Valyssa Monterg and Westerner Lady, three of those in the past four years.
Ruby steers The Crafty Butcher, which tends not to do things in a hurry but is well-treated. However, he would have been unable to meet the weight demands on the selection.
Lagostovegas looks the value under the trainer's nephew Danny. She was clearly not right when pulled up as 5/2 favourite on her debut for the barn hurdling in Killarney in May, yet she put it right there on the Flat next time and since went close off 89 on the level from a horrible draw in the big race here on Monday.
There might be a slight question-mark about her stamina for this distance but if Danny can hold on to her, she is probably at least 10lb well-in.
Joseph O'Brien has been the emerging force this week in Ballybrit and is fancied to take the opening O'Leary Insurances Maiden Hurdle with Big Ben; the high-street firms' quotes of 11/10 last night show they are wise to what may transpire.
This horse was eye-catching when second to the classy Landofhopeandglory in November and that he has not been seen since is hardly a worry: O'Brien has clearly been training horses to fire at Galway.
Probably the greatest certainty of the week - apart from it raining every day - is the Galileo-bred Amedeo Modigliani in the Galway Shopping Centre Irish EBF Maiden. He was a 20/1 three-and-a-half-length third to stablemate Gustav Klmit, a potential Classic horse, on his debut over a month ago.
Like many of the Galway maidens this week, viable opposition to the favourite is threadbare. The aforementioned Landofhopeandglory won this for Ballydoyle two years ago, subsequent Irish Derby winner Capri doing the same since.
The nursery is always compelling here and Joe Murphy, so agonisingly denied Galway Hurdle glory with Swamp Fox, may enjoy some compensation in the form of Deep Breath. The form of her maiden win has worked out better than expected and she looks a good deal better than a mark of 76 if she can last it out under Pat Smullen.
John Levins has had a quiet Galway but keep an eye on his own horse, Complicit, in the Ardilaun Hotel Handicap. His somewhat idiosyncratic campaigning over shorter has possibly not helped the horse stay distances that were no problem to him previously but he hovers dangerously off just 67 under the promising Donagh O'Connor.
Dermot Weld tries a visor on Dalton Highway, which is surely well-treated in the Terry Cunningham Memorial Handicap, but the draw is not good at all and First Class Ticket - put in at 33/1 last night - could be the value for Andrew McNamara.
They conclude with the mares' bumper. Our columnist Patrick Mullins is sweet on the prospects of True Self, which looked far from straightforward on her only British start but clearly can move.