Thursday 21 November 2019

Timiyan can defy Elliott's downbeat appraisal in Hurdle

Timiyan [left] winning at the 2014 Galway Festival for then trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Timiyan [left] winning at the 2014 Galway Festival for then trainer Dermot Weld. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Johnny Ward

The most startling thing about Galway in 2017 is the low expectations when it comes to the Dermot Weld stable. It was only last year Willie Mullins ended the long reign of Weld as he was crowned champion in Ballybrit. Not since Aidan O'Brien in 1997 had Weld's name not been top.

Weld's season has been a quiet one. He was beset with bug-related issues, he reported recently, without getting into specifics. The figures do not lie: he has yet to hit even 20 winners this campaign; last season yielded 87. Weld has written off his chance of a trainer's title, the market for which has been dominated by Willie Mullins and Joseph O'Brien, cut by Paddy Power from 14/1 into 2/1, though that sounds more impressive than it is in an era when it takes little to move a market.

Gordon Elliott, despite his downbeat appraisal, has a good chance of taking the Guinness Galway Hurdle with Timiyan. Timiyan was a winner for Weld at the 2014 Festival, following up that maiden by trouncing his rivals in a handicap off 93. Were he to take to hurdling, he has the potential to be a Grade One performer, and the ease with which he won at Bellewstown off 125 last time implied he might not be too far off.

He has progressed a further 10lb in the rankings and, while it is questionable if Barry Geraghty will be able to do the weight, he looks to have a huge chance at 8/1. Elliott, having saddled three runners-up in the Hurdle, is worthy of one.

The Thetote.com Galway Plate may stretch the stamina of 20/1 Bentelimar but take a chance he lasts it out. Dropping him back to two miles in a smart heat last time looked a wise move by Shay Barry and no doubt this novice can jump. Likely to run off a low weight in a classy renewal, he should give you plenty of excitement and may even last it out.

Writing off previous Plate winner Road To Riches would be risky. He was a 9/4 favourite only 12 months ago, has dropped 6lb since and trainer Noel Meade is notably bullish. "His spleen had moved over to the other side of his stomach but we didn't find that out until spring," Meade said. "Since we got that sorted he really has turned inside out."

Tomorrow's feature Connacht Hotel (QR) Handicap looks liable to be an excellent edition and Brian McMahon, whose brother Seánie was a Clare great (highest scoring back in All-Ireland SHC history) could take this with Powersbomb.

For a horse who travels so well, it was notable that he made the running last time at Roscommon, and it suited him more than may have been envisaged. Course form is a massive plus at this venue and he has won here hurdling. It would be no surprise were he to reappear later in the week; nor would it be a shock were Derek O'Connor, from the Galway side of the border with the Banner County, to steer.

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