Wednesday 25 April 2018

Shaneshill the pick of strong team in the Plate

Riven Light, ridden by jockey Declan McDonogh, is first past the post in the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap. Photo: PA.
Riven Light, ridden by jockey Declan McDonogh, is first past the post in the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap. Photo: PA.

Patrick Mullins

It was a good start to the festival for my father and I, both enjoying a winner on Monday night, and a double for Dad into the bargain.

And after landing the feature contest last night with Riven Light, all the team is in buoyant form ahead of today.

We've a strong hand on the card, starting with Minella Beau and Castello Sforza in the opener. The trip is not ideal as Minella Beau wants further - he probably wants slower ground as well - but he is working very well at home and it doesn't look like the strongest race in the world.

Despite some things being against him, I expect him to give the owning Mee family a Galway winner. Castello Sforza has been disappointing over hurdles and his jumping has let him down on occasion, yet he gives us a very strong hand in this. Minella Beau's jumping gives him the advantage.

In the mares' handicap hurdle, I like The Birdie Crowe. She is a bumper winner around Galway and was second at Roscommon to a mare of ours (Law Girl) about which we think plenty. I feel she may have gotten in lightly off 112. Jessica Harrington's horses are always to be feared.

There are plenty of exposed types in the third and Immortal Bridge looks to be anomalous. He is young and unexposed, gets in off a low weight and Joseph O'Brien's horses are very healthy. He makes most appeal.

Exchange Rate joined the Mees with the intention of Galway. He is Flat-bred and there is a lot of speed in his family but he gets his stamina from his sire Monsun. He won more impressively than the bare result at Downpatrick - I felt he idled quite a lot in front up the North.

I expect a big run from him but to give over a stone to Rickrack may be beyond him, given the allowances she has. I'd be disappointed if I am not in the money, that said.

On to the Plate, I ride the top weight in Ballycasey, a yard favourite at this stage after having such a fantastic winter, where he won some very important battles in the war for the trainers' title.

Shaneshill is our number one. He is unexposed, essentially a second-season novice over fences; the trip should be ideal and he will handle the ground. He is a Grade One winner over hurdles and open to improvement over fences.

Haymount is dropping back in trip but the way he travels and jumps, it should be no problem. He is an unexposed second-season novice and you want that type in these top handicaps.

Arbre De Vie is very hit and miss but he ran very well over this trip at the Punchestown Festival, possibly a shade unlucky. David Mullins is well able to win these big races, and he has a huge each-way chance off his weight. Brian Hayes rides last year's runner-up Alelchi Inois, which seems to have lost his form. Hopefully Galway sparks some flame.

Locally

We will go for the locally-trained Stormy Belle in the next. Pat Fahy had a great win on the Monday night, this daughter of Dandy Man ran very well in the Curragh last time and you can be sure Pat has had his eye on Galway all summer. She may have a little up her sleeve.

My Amazing One gets the nod in the maiden for Thomond O'Mara. Like Andy Slattery, Thomond is better known for his pointers, but he has a nice Flat horse here. It ran well at Ballinrobe and if not coming too quickly has the best form on offer.

Wood Breizh runs for my father in the last, having been knocking on the door, but St Stephens Green stands out for my cousin Emmet. We bought him as a three-year-old and he was Emmet's first winner as a trainer.

The handicapper has given him a decent opening mark and he only found Heartbreak City too good at last year's festival - not bad form. He handles the track and I think he can give Emmet his first festival winner as a trainer.

3.15: Minella Beau

3.50: The Birdie Crowe

4.25: Immortal Bridge

5.00: Rickrack

5.25: Shaneshill

6.15: Stormy Belle

6.50: My Amazing One

7.20: St Stephens Green

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