Sunday 25 February 2018

Time to win some money: Here are Richard Forristal's top tips for Galway

Sandymount Duke ridden by Robbie Power jump the last before winning the Guinness Novice Hurdle
Sandymount Duke ridden by Robbie Power jump the last before winning the Guinness Novice Hurdle
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Weekend revellers rolling into Galway tonight will be welcomed by a deeply competitive seven-race spread that is spearheaded by the €100,000 Guinness Handicap.

A year ago, Tony Martin's Artful Artist and Dermot Weld's Show Court fought out the finish, with Artful Artist coming through from the rear to collect just four days after flopping when sent off favourite over hurdles.

That was reflective of an engaging sub-plot that had prevailed at the seven-day jaunt in 2013 and 2014, Martin and Weld trading blows for sport.

Neither trainer has been as rampant this week, but they send Artful Artist and Show Court into battle in the Ballybrit feature again tonight.

It promises to be a compelling showpiece, with Willie Mullins set to saddle his Royal Ascot hero, Clondaw Warrior.

Few horses better demonstrate the champion jumps trainer's all-round genius.

A dual bumper winner in 2011 for John 'Shark' Hanlon that lost its way, Clondaw Warrior was bought by a syndicate that includes Gillian Walsh and Aine Casey, wives of jockeys Ruby and David.


It was a private sale, but he can't have set them back much. At Tramore last August, he made his debut for Mullins off a lowly rating of 52.

He was sent off at odds of 8/11 in a 12-runner handicap, and duly hosed up by eight lengths for Billy Lee. In the intervening year, he has performed consistently well at a decent level, and last month Ryan Moore rode him to victory at Royal Ascot.

Clondaw Warrior is now rated 96, almost twice the horse he was when Mullins got his hands on him. Whatever he cost, as he vies for his fifth success for Mullins in a race worth €60,000 to the winner, he was a bargain.

In seeking to negate his Ascot penalty, Mullins has turned to Jack Kennedy, the former pony racing sensation who has burst onto the track scene this year. It is formidable-looking partnership.

Later on, Dermot Weld will saddle the exciting Killarney victor Good Tradition in the concluding conditions race.

It is a contest that he has won for the past two years with the high-class duo Unaccompanied and Forgotten Rules, so the Pivotal gelding really has, ahem, a good tradition to keep up.

5.10 Guinness H'cap Hurdle 2m

Bank Bonus ran well when second here on Tuesday. He has little weight on his back and is likely to figure prominently again.

His Gordon Elliott-trained stablemate Tempo Mac included Rawnaq and the re-opposing Rupert Lamb among his victims at Bellewstown and he has won again since at Cartmel. Paul Carberry's mount is up another seven pounds now.

Tandem could be nicely handicapped if he gets up the hill for Davy Russell, while Riviera Sun has been in fine form in novices. He showed decent stamina to win over further at Roscommon and that will stand to Henry de Bromhead's charge around here.

Verdict - Riviera Sun is interesting back in a handicap under Barry Geraghty.

5.45 Guinness 17:59 Auction Maiden 7f

Palmetto Dunes kept on to be third to Sanus Per Aquam on his Leopardstown debut. That is smart form, and the main negative is his draw.

Zig Zag has been disappointing but he could do better yet and he isn't drawn badly. Mr Michael and Whiskey Sour have shown potential, while the filly Prove The Point was highly tried last time. She had looked useful when second at Tipperary previously.

Verdict - If Palmetto Dunes improves he should win for Pat Smullen.

6.15 Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase 2m 6f

Last year's winner Aranhill Chief is 10lbs higher this time. He won off a six-pound lower mark at Roscommon but then fluffed his lines badly at Kilbeggan, although he clearly loves it around here.

While Devils Bride has a lot of weight, he had a nice prep over hurdles when second to Rawnaq in the north. He was two from two over fences last summer so is still an unknown quantity.

Ruby Walsh prefers Urano of Willie Mullins' two. He is consistent but doesn't win too often and may need to come down in the ratings.

Never Complain is one of a number coming here in solid form. He ran all the way to the line when second to Elegant Statesman at Down Royal and this longer trip might suit him.

Verdict - Over this distance, Never Complain might go close.

6.50 Guinness Premier Hcap 1m3f

Clondaw Warrior has been a revelation on the Flat. He won for a second time in three starts off 74 over course and distance in the autumn, and his last two Flat outings have yielded wins in the November Handicap and the Ascot Stakes. He is seven-pounds higher for his royal win but that is negated by the excellent Jack Kennedy's claim.

Last year's first and second, Artful Artist and Show Court, both have chances again, though Artful Artist has a lot more weight to carry this time.

Cailini Alainn beat the subsequent winner Askmour at Leopardstown last time. She is still progressing and ran well in a maiden here last year.

Andy Oliver's I'll Be Your Clown is just three pounds higher for his valuable Navan win over Unsinkable, which was a decent third in Tuesday's feature. He is unproven over this far.

Mick Halford's Curragh winner Shadagann is probably more likely to figure than veteran stablemate Paddy The Celeb. Shadagann has really found his form lately and could still be on the right side of the handicapper.

Verdict - Clondaw Warrior (Nap) still has bundles of appeal.

7.25 Guinness EBF Maiden 1m 3f

David Wachman puts a visor on Nova after two respectable efforts in defeat. He stays well and just failed to get up when third at Bellewstown, and the second has since won in England off 74.

Ger Lyons also tries Van Schaick in blinkers after a couple of near misses. Monolight, his head Roscommon conqueror, has since been placed off 80.

With that in mind, the Weld newcomer Pictogram mightn't need to be a Group horse to win, so any market move for him would speak volumes.

Verdict - Van Schaick seems to be heading the right way.

8.00 Arthur GuinnesS H'cap 1m

Jeremys Joy is 10lbs higher after hacking up at Ballinrobe. He loves to get his toe in but he has a lot of weight to carry in this.

Dea Dia has an appalling draw but represents an in-form duo of Sheila Lavery and Smullen, and ran a blinder on her handicap debut.

She is just a pound higher here and looks progressive. Easy Boy was a little unlucky in defeat in the same race. He is in great heart and should run well again for Pat Martin and Colin Keane.

Verdict - If Dea Dia can beat the draw she might go very close.

8.30 Guinness Race 1m 5f

Good Tradition is a well-bred gelding with smart entries. Lightly raced, he drew clear of some fair sorts impressively at Killarney. On ratings, he has a bit to find but he could find plenty.

Technically, Certerach is thrown in at the weights. He never figured on his Leopardstown return and may well save his best for the all-weather. Chapter Seven ran well behind Order Of St George last time but hasn't won for a long time.

Verdict - Good Tradition is fancied.

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