Early Doors can set the tone for a good day for the green, white and gold colours of owner JP McManus, by taking the Guinness Beginners’ Chase which gets Galway Hurdle day underway at 2pm.
The Joseph O’Brien-trained six-year-old hasn’t run since winning the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, a win which earned him a mark of 152 over hurdles. That stands out against this afternoon’s company and it seems significant that connections are keen to go chasing with him rather than to persevere over hurdles.
O’Brien and McManus teamed up to win this race in Tesseract in 2017 and, with due respect to that winner, there is no comparison between him and Early Doors. This looks a perfect starting point for the classy performer, and he can take this at the expense of Minella Times and From Eden.
The same connections can take the featured Guinness Galway Hurdle with Band Of Outlaws. Much has been made of the modest record of four-year-olds in the race, but Perugino Diamond won it in 2000 and, more recently, Flaxen Flare finished runner-up in 2013, 12 months after Cause Of Causes had filled the same spot. Band Of Outlaws was a useful sort on the flat and had no trouble transferring that ability to hurdling. He was an unlucky loser on his first start over obstacles, but won his next three, including a very easy success in the Boodles (formerly Fred Winter) Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was beaten on his next two outings, one on the flat, but both are forgivable. He is a strong traveller who should be suited the frantic pace at which this race is likely to be run, and JJ Slevin can deliver him late to land the €177,000 winner’s prize.
Davids Charm was a beaten favourite in this race last year but that’s an effort best forgotten as nothing went right for him there. He has since been in good form on the flat and a much-improved effort can be expected today. He has strong claims. At much bigger odds, Play The Game could sneak into the frame for the very much in-form yard of John McConnell.
In what could be another bumper day for Joseph O’Brien, Cava can take the listed Corrib Stakes. She was noted making good late headway into fourth place last time, but that was over six furlongs, which was an inadequate test for her. The stiff seven here should bring out the best in her, and she can secure a first win of the season.
Titanium Sky is feared most. From the stable of Dermot Weld, who won this race last year with Yulong Gold Fairy, the lightly raced Dark Angel filly will appreciate any rain which falls, and this race represents a drop in grade for her.
Podcast: Ruby Walsh talks racing, retirement and the Galway Races