Wednesday 22 January 2020

Weld's long-shots can be worth the risk

Wayne Bailey

Wayne Bailey

WE'VE all heard the old phrase 'this is a marathon, not a sprint' used in various sporting scenarios, but from a punting perspective, it's definitely sound advice with regard to the Galway Races.

As far as I'm aware, it's the only seven-day horse racing festival in the world, so make sure you pace yourself and don't spend more than you can afford to lose.

I don't want to take away from the fun of the festival, but a seven-day gambling binge can have devastating consequences for those that can't keep things under control, so make a plan regarding how much you'll spend each day and stick to it, win or lose.

There's no need to have a bet every day and I usually pick and choose my races carefully.

When it comes to races like the Galway Plate, don't be afraid to take a chance on an outsider or even dutch two-or-three-horses if you can get a reasonable overall price. Since the turn of the century, Paul Nicholls' Oslot was the shortest winner at 11/4 but seven other winners went off in double-figure prices during that period.

Good recent form is a big plus in this race, but I also try my best to find a handicapper that is not too exposed in chases.

It's a similar story with the Galway Hurdle, where good form is a must -- although in this one, you should also consider the Flat form too, as trainers sometimes keep their Galway horses running on the level in order to preserve their hurdle handicap mark.

In-running punters should familiarise themselves with the course as it has a number of quirks that can catch out both jockey and horse, particularly at the dip where the last two fences are situated.

These fences are the closest two fences on any racecourse in the world and there's also a steep incline to the finish which has seen may apparent winners get chinned over the years.

Trainer Dermot Weld is synonymous with the Galway races and in 2008, he managed to secure his 200th Festival winner, which is an incredible feat in any man's language.

The Curragh-based handler will celebrate his 62nd birthday on Galway Hurdle day and is sure to have prepared certain horses with the festival in mind.

Generally speaking, following a trainer blindly is considered mug punting of the highest order, but I remember advising readers to do just that last year and as usual, it proved fruitful with a profit of nine points shown overall.

You'd imagine that the bookmakers would have all his horses as short-priced favourites, but depending on how greedy they are, they may try to get some money into the satchel and let a few go off at decent odds.

Indeed, included in Weld's tally last year were winners at 11/2, 8/1 and 10/1 so keep an eye on the bigger-priced animals as well as the short ones.

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