Ir­ish Rac­ing

The King Of Gal­way faces plenty of com­pe­ti­tion for his crown this year

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Mark Co­ton bids farewell to rac­ing leg­end Mercy Rimell

The meet­ing of July and Au­gust means one thing in Ir­ish rac­ing and that is Gal­way.One of the high­points the sport­ing and so­cial sum­mer, the meet­ing runs this year from July 31 to Au­gust 6. And for many pun­ters Gal­way means one thing: back­ing Der­mot Weld­trained horses, the trainer hav­ing been top dog at the fes­ti­val 29 times out of 30 years up to 2015. That punt­ing sta­ple might how­ever need reval­u­at­ing in 2017.

Last year’s top trainer prize went to Wil­lie Mullins and it prob­a­bly should have gone his way in 2015 too when he trained more win­ners than Weld but the track de­cided to use an un­usual count­back sys­tem to de­ter­mine the win­ner.

Weld could strug­gle again this year as he will have few run­ners in the Na­tional Hunt races, the trainer re­mark­ing lately that Three King­doms is the only real jumper in the yard.

But more im­por­tant than that is the poor form of the yard through­out this cur­rent cam­paign.Af­ter a 2016 Flat sea­son where he fin­ished sec­ond to Ai­dan O’Brien in the train­ers’ cham­pi­onship with 87 win­ners and 2,890,338 in prize­money,this sea­son finds Weld only sev­enth over­all with 19 win­ners and 481,323 prize­money at the time of writ­ing and we are al­ready past the half­way point. His horses were sick back in May but things haven’t been trend­ing up in June and July ei­ther, his record in that pe­riod of seven win­ners from 77 run­ners well be­low his typ­i­cal re­turns.

He will of course have win­ners at Gal­way, not least be­cause he al­ways keeps some good horses back for the maid­ens, but ex­pect­ing a big meet­ing would be to ig­nore the ev­i­dence of this sea­son.

Tony Martin is another trainer that pun­ters latch on to at this meet­ing, this last four years re­turn­ing eight, six, six and three win­ners re­spec­tively. Martin is clearly a fine tar­get trainer but his sta­ble form has been a worry for his back­ers; in all of 2017, he has had nine win­ners from 143 run­ners while he is just one from 49 this June and July.That could leave the way clear from top jumps op­er­a­tors like Gor­don El­liott and Mullins to win plenty at the meet­ing, not least be­cause they al­ways have some dual-pur­pose types for the stay­ing Flat races. Mullins has done ex­cep­tion­ally well here from rel­a­tively few run­ners,his record since 2013 read­ing 24 win­ners from 84 run­ners and would be a de­serv­ing favourite for top trainer.


Mullins may be able to get his week off to a flier with LAWS OF SPIN in the stay­ing hand­i­cap on open­ing night.Many sim­i­lar races have been weak in 2017 but Laws Of Spin was a good win­ner of the Ir­ish Ce­sare­witch last Oc­to­ber and shaped well on his first start since over Derby week­end, los­ing his po­si­tion in a slow­lyrun race around half­way but com­ing with a late rat­tle and look­ing like one that had more to give in the fin­ish.

This stiff track should suit him and Paddy Mullins could take the ride; he would be more ex­pe­ri­enced than many who ride in this race. Another one for the short­list is MILES TO MEM­PHIS trained by Sneezy Foster. A win in the Ladies Derby

brought his record on the flat to four wins from four starts in­clud­ing bumpers which isn’t the great­est sur­prise as he can be a dodgy jumper of hur­dles.Though his last win came over a mile and a half this ex­tra dis­tance shouldn’t be an is­sue as he has won over fur­ther and with many of these races be­ing poorly con­tested this year I quite like the idea of back­ing some­thing com­ing from shorter races.


TAN­DEM has been a star per­former for the Weld yard ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a down time this year and has won all three of his Ir­ish starts, most no­tably the Nas­rul­lah Hand­i­cap last time at Leop­ard­stown. Weld in­ti­mated that he could go for the Gal­way Mile on Tues­day af­ter that win but he fol­lowed the same route in 2013 be­fore dis­ap­point­ing at Gal­way. He has won at the track but that came as a 30/100 favourite and there is a strong sus­pi­cion that he doesn’t re­ally like the place; his three other tries have been un­der­whelm­ing con­sid­er­ing the mar­ket ex­pec­ta­tions.

ELU­SIVE HEIGHTS was men­tioned as a horse to fol­low here last month and in truth he was dis­ap­point­ing in the same race Tan­dem won last time de­spite be­ing well-backed. I won­der if he quite got home how­ever as he trav­elled re­ally strongly and it could be that this stiff, ex­tended mile will suit bet­ter. Cer­tainly he seems worth another chance and his trainer Ger Lyons has won the race in re­cent times.


To­wards the mid­dle of the week the fea­ture ac­tion switches to the jumpers with the Gal­way Plate and Hur­dle.It is worth point­ing out the value of these races; they are among the top six races in terms of prize­money in the months of June, July and Au­gust in Ire­land along with the Derby, Oaks, Pretty Polly and Phoenix Stakes, all Group 1 Flat events. That makes them un­der­stand­ably at­trac­tive to own­ers and train­ers and they are no mere sum­mer jumps races.

With this in mind, I pre­fer to con­cen­trate on horses that ran dur­ing the Na­tional Hunt sea­son proper; they are usu­ally bet­ter than those that have been go­ing up in the weights for win­ning or run­ning well in sum­mer con­tests. If you have taken this ap­proach with the Plate and Hur­dle, look­ing for horses that had their last run be­tween Chel­tenham and

the end of Punchestown, you would have found five Plate win­ners and three Hur­dle win­ners since 2010.

With this in mind, BALKO DES FLOS is one to be in­ter­ested in the Plate.He mixed it with some re­ally good novices this past sea­son,no­tably the likes of Disko and Our Duke and shaped like a stiff 2m6f at Gal­way would suit him at Punchestown.

Michael O’Leary said this race was his aim a while back and his trainer Henry De Brom­head has won the race in the re­cent past. SANDY­MOUNT DUKE is another ob­vi­ous one but the con­cern is that he’s been go­ing up in the weights since the end of the Na­tional Hunt sea­son proper and a more ap­peal­ing type is ON FID­DLERS GREEN, also trained by De Brom­head. He’s a sum­mer jumper him­self, al­beit a lightly-raced one, and won the Con­nacht Na­tional with a bit in hand back in June. A win­ner at Gal­way last July, this race will have been a long-term plan.

In the Hur­dle on Thurs­day,it is a se­ries of JP McManus horses that keep spring­ing to mind as po­ten­tial win­ners. WESTERN BOY once gaveVau­tour a race as a novice hur­dler and was a re­ally good flat horse back in 2015 where he reached a peak of­fi­cial rat­ing of 93.

His hur­dles runs have been in­fre­quent since but he was one of the eas­i­est win­ners of the en­tire Punchestown fes­ti­val in a twom­ile hand­i­cap hur­dle. Horses that come back and run well at Gal­way year af­ter year are com­mon and THOMAS EDI­SON, win­ner of the Hur­dle in 2014 and set to play a role in the fin­ish in 2015 be­fore fall­ing at the last, is one that springs to mind.He shaped well on his first run in 18 months at Tip­per­ary last time but the form of the Tony Martin yard is a con­cern.

TIGRIS RIVER was fifth in the race last year hav­ing won a maiden hur­dle here back in 2015 and his form re­cently has been ex­cel­lent; he won a Cur­ragh hand­i­cap read­ily in June be­fore tak­ing his prep race at Bellew­stown with plenty in hand. Fi­nally, another Bellew­stown win­ner TIMIYAN looked a hur­dler to fol­low when win­ning there re­cently. A wide-mar­gin course win­ner back in 2014 when trained by Der­motWeld on the flat,he is two from two since join­ing Gor­don El­liott in 2017. His mark of 135 could make it tight for him to get into the race but he is surely des­tined to run else­where at the meet­ing.


Fri­day’s fea­ture is the Guin­ness Hand­i­cap over a mile and a half and SEA THE LION stands out as a strong con­tender.He won a deep race at Na­van in early June and fol­lowed that up with a win the Ra­gusa Hand­i­cap over Derby week­end, do­ing well to win as the race unfolded, briefly done for toe as the slow pace quick­ened but prov­ing so well-treated that he could ex­tri­cate him­self from the po­si­tion.

He re­mains on a good mark, a six­pound rise to 85 le­nient,and would have a mas­sive chance if run­ning. Another that could run here is POW­ERS BOMB. Win­ner of a hand­i­cap hur­dle here in 2015 when land­ing a gam­ble, he has since pro­gressed into a de­cent chaser al­beit one held back by his jump­ing. With that in mind,it wasn’t the great­est sur­prise that he took well to flat rac­ing when tried on the level this sum­mer, break­ing his maiden on the third time of ask­ing.An ini­tial mark of 87 looks man­age­able.


Away from the fea­ture events, I have a num­ber of horses that are worth fol­low­ing in the shoul­der races. At this point of the year, most of my at­ten­tion is on flat rac­ing but PERE­GRINE RUN and TWOBEELUCKY are a pair of jumpers to note over fences and hur­dles re­spec­tively. Pere­grine Run was smart novice hur­dler this past jumps sea­son,win­ning a Grade 2 at the Open Meet­ing,and has taken re­ally well to chas­ing this sum­mer. The novice chase on Thurs­day’s card is his tar­get.

Twobeelucky is one of a few horses Roger Brook­house moved from the UK to Henry De Brom­head and the ex-Flat horse has taken re­ally well to jump­ing win­ning his last two starts over hur­dles.

Back on the level,TARA DYLAN is one to keep an eye on. A win­ner at the meet­ing last year, she has since rose plenty in the weights but her first run of 2017 at Leop­ard­stown sug­gested fur­ther suc­cess should be forth­com­ing.She trav­elled well into the race con­sid­er­ing she as con­ced­ing fit­ness and her trainer Tom Mullins has a fine record at this meet­ing. GUS­TAVUS VASSA only made his de­but in late June but he has come quite a way since, run­ning against a tal­ented sort trained by Ger Lyons on his sec­ond start in El­e­gant Post be­fore been set too much to do on his first hand­i­cap run at Roscom­mon. A mark of 86 un­der­rates him.

SILVERKODE and SEVERUS fought out the fin­ish of a Cur­ragh hand­i­cap in early July and both look ca­pa­ble of win­ning soon.Silverkode was bet­ter than the re­sult that day,hav­ing to wait for his run,and af­ter only three starts has more to of­fer while Severus is sim­ply in the form of his life and he ran well when sec­ond at this meet­ing in 2016. MIRO was a big eye-catcher in the Ap­pren­tice Derby over Derby week­end be­fore rac­ing much too keenly on his next start at Bellew­stown;he is worth a chance to atone and a 1m4f hand­i­cap around here would suit ide­ally. ON THE IF LIST is trained by Harry Rogers who has had some suc­cess here over the years.He ran well when tak­ing on higher-rated ri­vals at re­cent Thurs­day night meet­ing at Leop­ard­stown and a mark of 79 fa­cil­i­tates a drop in grade should con­nec­tions lean that way.

It would be im­pos­si­ble to go through a Gal­way preview and not give a Weld horse or two to watch out for; while the trainer may not en­joy the suc­cess of pre­vi­ous years, he is sure to have win­ners here. SHAMAD is yet to win in four starts but there was plenty to like about his first run off a break af­ter be­ing gelded last time at Naas where he didn’t get a clear run ei­ther. The stiff mile here should suit him. MUNIZA seemed rel­a­tively un­fan­cied for her de­but over Oaks week­end but there was plenty to like about her run against fit and ex­pe­ri­enced fil­lies and one of the maid­ens over the week should be a for­mal­ity, such races of­ten quite weak.

Balko des Flos

Three King­doms



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