Minella to get back on track
THE death of RTE broadcaster Colm Murray has cast a shadow over the racing and sports journalism world and you couldn't move a yard around Galway yesterday without hearing someone sing his praises.
I won't pretend I knew him very well but I met him a couple of times at Leopardstown and his love of life was infectious – as was his determination to beat the bookies. Seeing him out racing or watching his reports on television was a reminder that win or lose, horseracing is all about fun and good sportsmanship and just like life, it's not something to take too seriously.
Mind you, that's not to say he wasn't passionate about the sport and had life not dealt him such a cruel hand, he'd certainly be out and about at Ballybrit enjoying the festivities. A truly intelligent man, this true gent epitomised bravery throughout his illness. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dhílís.
Today's action kicks off a little earlier at 3.0 with a maiden hurdle and John Nallen's Minella Reception (nap) offers decent value at 13/2 to get the better of Enchanted Forest and Tony Martin's Blackmail. He wasn't himself when running poorly in a similar race here in October but the Listowel bumper winner previously showed some promise over sticks and I'm confident he can give a better account of himself today.
The big one is the Galway Plate (5.30) which sees Majestic Concorde make his return to National Hunt racing. He's been a great servant to Dermot Weld over the years and won the 2010 Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown off joint top-weight.
His saddle slipped in the 2011 Grand National, unseating Robbie McNamara, and something similar happened in this race two years ago when he took a bump off Dancing Tornado, which saw him pulled up. That was the last time he raced over jumps but he's loosened up on the Flat a couple of times this term and I wouldn't put it past Weld to get one more big race out of him, priced around 8/1.
On the Flat, Weld's Lucky Kitten can score in the handicap at 6.40 while Jayed Jidan looks like banker material in the final race of the day, albeit at a restrictive price.
Allow me to digress from Galway to mention the 'Duel on the Downs' – aka the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood (3.05) involving Dawn Approach and Toronado. Dawn Approach has lost just once in nine starts when he flopped in the Derby but has beaten Toronado in both the Guineas and St James's Palace Stakes.
Toronado's connections feel he was a little unlucky at Ascot and are out to settle the score but Jim Bolger describes Dawn Approach as being in "mighty awesome form" and the son of New Approach is tipped to edge his rival once again in this mouth-watering clash, priced around 11/10.
3.0 Minella Reception (nap)
3.35 Wontbelongnow (e/w)
4.10 Victrix Gale
5.30 Majestic Concorde
6.05 The Black Devil (e/w)
6.40 Lucky Kitten
7.10 Jayed Jidan