Patrick Mullins: Crafty Butcher can cut field to pieces
My father's title quest going to the wire after thrilling week
The week of the 2017 Galway Festival has flown by and it's been very kind to us. The horses have been running fantastically, with Whiskey Sour (twice) and Riven Light winning feature races and Shaneshill and Airlie Beach placing in the Hurdle and Plate.
Some have disappointed, Townshend and Lac Kivu most notably, but all have come home safe - and we should never underestimate the value of that.
The highlight has to be Aubrey McMahon winning on Whiskey Sour on Monday. His father, Luke, has been a long-time supporter of the yard and it was magic for him to have Aubrey win on his horse. Moments like that make racing special and it was great to see the horse strike again last night.
Shaneshill is the horse to take out of the week. His inexperience caught him out at the trappy, downhill second-last but he can surely make amends in some of the prestigious winter staying handicaps in the months to come.
Wednesday was very enjoyable as I had advised the Mees to buy both Minella Beau and Exchange Rate, which led to more pressure on the day. However, it made their victories all the sweeter!
The Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle today is, as always at Galway, fiercely competitive. The loveable old-timer Hidden Cyclone tops the weights but I'm hoping we can beat him with The Crafty Butcher.
I own this horse with some of my friends and, while he has yet to win, he ran a cracker in the Paddy Power at Christmas. He only carries 10st 3lb and Ruby Walsh has chosen him, which bodes well, even though it means the champion jockey won't be having dinner or breakfast!
Perhaps he wants further and softer ground but I think the fact that they have to climb the Galway hill three times could negate that. It's far steeper than Cheltenham's hill.
I ride a filly called True Self in the bumper. She was only beaten a head on her debut for Don Cantillon in a three-year-olds' bumper last winter despite running very green, and the form has worked out particularly well.
I haven't sat on her at home as we keep lighter jockeys on the fillies but she goes well and I hope she makes the running - as well as that I hope that sweating to do 11st 4lb is worth it!
Tomorrow, Ruby rides Ben Button for us in the Kenny Galway Handicap Hurdle. He was second on his stable debut at Downpatrick, where a combination of the tight track and good ground caught him out.
I think the step up in trip, the softer ground and the stiffer test that Galway provides will all bring about improvement in him and I'd be disappointed if he isn't better than his current mark.
We turn out another winner from earlier in the week, Riven Light, tomorrow. He got 13lb for winning but runs here with only a 7lb penalty, which is enticing. He drops back a furlong, which should be fine given the speed he showed in the Colm Quinn Mile, but it'll be difficult to secure a clear passage from stall 15.
Declan McDonogh gave him a brilliant ride - it had so many close shaves it could have been an opening scene to a Bond movie and he'll have to be at his brilliant best to sneak him to the lollipop in front from his draw in the car park.
In the final race of this kaleidoscope of a week, I ride the exciting Ainsi Va La Vie. She's a half-sister to the Grade One-winning Sous Les Cieux but she took three years of waiting before we finally got her to the track, so hats off to her owners for their patience.
Her victory in Limerick took the breath away but it was over two and a half miles - and against mares. This test is an altogether more demanding assignment being two miles and against geldings. Joseph O'Brien's Santiago De Cuba looked impressive in Killarney so this will be an intriguing race to watch.
And it's not impossible that the leading trainer award could come down to this. My father won this for the first time last year, having gone close the year before, and it is a privilege to win it at such a great Festival.
When it comes to Galway, don't rule anything out.
PATRICK'S LUCKY 15
3.05: The Crafty Butcher (today)
5.55: True Self (today)
2.45: Ben Button (tomorrow)
6.0: Ainsi Va La Vie (tomorrow)