Saturday 20 January 2018

Walsh's course knowledge can teach Long Dog some new tricks

Bachasson, under Ruby Walsh, powers clear of eventual runner-up Zafayan (Davy Russell) to land the opener at Galway last night
Bachasson, under Ruby Walsh, powers clear of eventual runner-up Zafayan (Davy Russell) to land the opener at Galway last night

Wayne Bailey

With a win rate of one in five, Ruby Walsh knows his way around the idiosyncratic Galway course and Long Dog (nap) is my idea of a good thing in the opening Topaz Novice Hurdle (5.15), priced around 6/4.

The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old kicked off his career with a win on the flat for Andrew Oliver in 2013 and hit 1/5 in-running before finishing second to Marinero in a big field maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse in November.

That horse has won again since and so too has Long Dog, which took a maiden hurdle at Sligo with the minimum of fuss earlier on this month. He could be something special and is one to keep onside in the future.

Of the rest, Adimelo catches the eye. He won three bumpers in France and responded well under pressure to land a maiden hurdle at Roscommon recently. I don't think he's quite as good as the selection but he looks sure to win more races for his owner Barry Connell.

The following Latin Quarter Beginners Chase (5.45) looks tricky enough. I considered backing Steps To Freedom at 13/2 but he's cost me a fair few quid in the past and has become unreliable.

Hash Brown is a good alternative at 11/4. He shaped well on his chasing debut finishing second to Sizing Platinum, and a couple of those he beat that day have since gone on to win.

Flat maiden favourites have a strike rate of just under 50pc at the Galway Festival and are profitable to back so Jim Bolger's Siamsaiocht (5/2) is the one to focus on in the Topaz Fillies Maiden (6.15). A daughter of Teofilo, she has Group entries later this season.

The Topaz Mile Handicap (6.50) is the big race of the day and racing off a mark of 86, David Wachman's mare Hint of A Tint looks a cracking each-way bet at 12/1. She hasn't won since her debut as a two-year-old in 2012 but following a couple of Group Three appearances, she's been racing in handicaps with a rating in the high 90s - which did its job of holding her back.

The handicapper has finally eased his grip and I reckon she's got a great chance of placing at the very least tonight.

The E.B.F. Maiden follows at 7.20 where Valac is a worthy favourite at 6/4. Dermot Weld's three-year-old was a little disappointing when third at Gowran last time, he's been gelded since and I believe they've had Galway in mind for some time. Ibergman looks the biggest danger.

At 20/1, Battleroftheboyne can be backed each-way in the Caulfield Industrial Athlone Handicap (7.50). He won a big field handicap at Navan in May and was second in a similar race at the Curragh in June but he messed up at the start when the gates opened in his latest two races, giving himself no chance.

I hope it's not a bad habit which has crept in but I suspect he was simply unlucky and should run better today than his price suggests.

The Handicap brings an end to proceedings but it's not an easy race for those looking to get out of jail. The fact that ten of the 16 runners are priced 10/1 or lower in the early betting goes to show how open this is - but the more I watch re-runs of his races, the more I'm warming to Hazariban at 8/1.

He finished mid-division in an 11-runner handicap at Leopardstown recently but the 1m5f trip was a little on the short side and it's good to see him back to two miles today. He's a useful hurdler too and responds well to pressure so he should be suited to a course like Galway which has a steep incline at the finish.


5.15 - Long Dog (nap)

5.45 - Hash Brown

6.15 - Siamsaiocht

6.50 - Hint of A Tint (e/w)

7.20 - Valac

7.50 - Battleroftheboyne (e/w)

8.20- Hazariban

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