Pyromaniac poised to set Galway alight
Tony Martin will saddle a trio of live contenders in his quest to become the first trainer in nearly 70 years to plunder three successive Guinness Galway Hurdle triumphs.
In his bid to emulate Barney Nugent, the only person to previously complete the feat in 1947, Martin's returning hero Quick Jack tops the weights.
Last year's third Ted Veale is also back, but many eyes will be drawn to Pyromaniac, whose participation was only assured on Monday courtesy of the state's judicial review procedure.
Suspended from racing for 42 days by the Killarney stewards after being deemed to have not run on its merits, Pyromaniac's ban was upheld by a Turf Club appeals panel this day last week.
However, Martin and the horse's owner Maurice Regan of Newton Anner Stud then took the matter to the High Court, and won a stay pending a judicial review of the Turf Club's verdict. The ban could yet be upheld, but, in a way, by then it may be academic.
A tilt at today's €300,000 handicap, the single most valuable jumps race in the land, has long seemed Pyromaniac's primary target.
The fact that he is permitted to line up, then, ultimately vindicates the route Martin has plotted to get him here, as the only natural conclusion to draw is that he is fulfilling his duty to make the best possible use of the system available to him. Pyromaniac looks to have a leading chance, so much so that Denis O'Regan has abandoned Quick Jack to steer.
It might seem strange that a horse banned by the sport's regulator is allowed to run, but that's where we are.
Quite how we got here is for another day. The only horse preceding Pyromaniac in most betting lists is the County Hurdle victor Superb Story. Dan and Harry Skelton's charge is the sole cross-channel raider taking its chance.
1.50 Guinness Dublin Porter Beginners' Chase 2m 6f
Roll It Out has chasing experience after going close at Tipperary, but he often finds one too good. His Gordon Elliott stablemate Taglietelle would be the pick of these on hurdle form.
If he takes to the job, he could be hard to beat. Dont Tell No One is a different sort of horse. He won a bumper here three years ago and was lightly raced over hurdles, but he could progress into a proper chaser.
Marinero, Phil's Magic and Daisy's Gift are others with chances, the last-named Ruby Walsh mount having fallen early on her chase bow at Kilbeggan.
Verdict: With Davy Russell up, Dont Tell No One could be made for this job.
2.25 Guinness Harp Novices' Chase 2m 2f
At the weights, Hurricane Ben has plenty to do, but he is a likeable animal. He was beaten for a first time in four starts at Killarney, but still emerged with credit off a mark of 132.
Xsquared succeeded in completing a four-timer at the Kerry venue. He is highly progressive and had Akito behind at Limerick previously, form that was franked by Akito's Killarney win.
On ratings, Glenwood Forever has plenty to do, while Tiger Roll emerges best on that score, but he disappointed considerably at Killarney.
Verdict: A chance is taken on Hurricane Ben conceding the poundage.
3.00 Hop House 13 Handicap 1m
Brian Ellison's Dream Walker bids for three in a row. With Oisin Orr taking seven pounds off, he is just two pounds higher than when winning at Ayr.
Ruler Of France and Daredevil Day re-oppose after their Ballinrobe thriller. Daredevil Day is two pounds better off for a short-head defeat.
Hidden Oasis recorded an overdue win at Killarney and remains well treated on her old form.
Verdict: Joe Murphy's Daredevil Day can exploit its inside berth under Pat Smullen.
3.30 Arthur Guinness EBF Listed Corrib Fillies' Stakes 7f
Planchart is back in trip, after staying on in a similar Naas race over 10 furlongs. She has won over a mile and will surely figure at the business end.
Adrian Keatley's recruit Mothers Finest is the top rated, but she has yet to prove that status is truly deserved.
Gussy Goose ran well in this last year. She didn't figure here on Tuesday and needs to step up markedly.
Rayisa is another well capable of having a say if she performs to her best, and this sort of race may suit her better than handicaps do.
Emergent drops back from a mile, having run well enough behind Creggs Pipes at Killarney. She was placed in a Group Three behind Now Or Never and should handle the ground.
Verdict: As Dermot Weld's pick, Emergent is worth sticking with in an open renewal.
4.05 Guinness Novices' Hurdle 2m 4f
This looks competitive, with at least five genuine contenders. Delegate has found his groove, but he might be vulnerable in this better company.
Black Warrior and Carrig Cathal are both on hat-tricks, having each accounted for Master Of Verse last time. They are very similar types and will appreciate this trip and further in time, with Black Warrior possibly best on a quick surface.
Bel Sas thrashed modest opposition at Bellewstown. He can improve, although he might enjoy drier ground, likewise Exactoris. Joseph O'Brien's charge has a touch of class, and will be sharper for his Killarney hurdle bow .
Verdict: Carrig Cathal appeals as decent prospect that can keep improving.
4.45 Guinness Galway Hurdle 2m
Quick Jack returns to hurdles for a first time since winning this last year, having run respectably on the Flat at Chester. He is 12lbs higher and has a big burden, although he remains quite unexposed and Donagh Meyler takes five valuable pounds off his back.
His stablemate Ted Veale was placed in this and the Monday feature in 2015. He flashed home late to be second in the big race three days ago, and should run his race again.
Denis O'Regan has got off last year's winner to partner Pyromaniac, and it's not hard to see why.
Pyromaniac travelled smoothly before failing to stay over further at this meeting 12 months ago. He has caught the eye in both of his recent outings at Killarney, and could have the quality to exploit a lenient rating.
Bamako Moriviere shares top-weight with Quick Jack. He is 15lbs higher than when initiating a brace at Punchestown, and he gave Clarcam weight and a beating at Bellewstown.
This will be tougher, and Ruby Walsh has gone with Clondaw Warrior. He is an open book at this stage, but that isn't to say that he doesn't have the scope to win this.
At Ascot, he came from a long way back to be third, and he was a solid third in the Scottish Champion Hurdle previously.
Superb Story won the County Hurdle with real authority. He hasn't run since, but is just seven pounds higher, so he should figure once again.
Last year's amateur riders' race winner Modem has a chance, as does his Jessica Harrington-trained stablemate, Rock The World.
He has been running over fences and isn't the most resolute, but he is well in relative to his chase figure, and Robbie Power has gone with him.
Moon Over Germany may just need the experience on his handicap bow.
The likes of Ancient Sands, Plinth and Cliff House are consistent, while Silver Concorde failed to do what was expected of him yesterday and is a non-runner.
Verdict: Pyromaniac appeals as Nap material to deliver on his potential.
5.25 Guinness Foals Handicap 1m 4f
Camlann ran well enough on Monday. He is up 11lbs for his previous Fairyhouse Flat rout, which makes life tough. Tara Dylan carries a five-pound penalty for her smart Leopardstown win, and Greanta is a pretty consistent mare that won't mind a cut.
Along The Shore bombed last time, but will go in the ground and ran Xsquared close the time before.
Verdict: This could be a chance for the O'Brien firm's Along The Shore.
6.00 Guinness West Indies Porter INH Flat Race 2m 2f
Playbook went close on its only previous start in a Listowel hurdle last year and should be a player in this one. Big Bad Brian has more recent hurdle form, having finished second to Bel Sas at Bellewstown.
Deise Diamond and Dorans River has also shown some ability.
Verdict: Jessica Harrington does well in these races, so Playbook appeals.