Stratum can give Willie third Galway Hurdle win in last four years

Stratum can give Willie third Galway Hurdle win in last four years

The Guinness Galway Hurdle, a race I was lucky enough to win in 2016 on Clondaw Warrior, is the feature today and I think Stratum can give Willie Mullins a third win in the last four runnings.

He has been allocated 11-6 but Conor McNamara is taking 7lbs off and that helps his chance. He has a similar profile to last year’s winner, Sharjah. He was a good winner when last over hurdles and also won his maiden at this track. I think he’s a massive player today.

Sayo hasn’t run in more than 500 days and, for a horse that stayed so well as a four-year-old, he probably wants a longer trip.

Davids Charm is unlucky more often that he is lucky. Will it be the same story today? Chosen Mate has been well touted, but I think his mark is a true reflection of what he has achieved as a novice hurdler. To me, he doesn’t look to have much in hand so will have to find improvement from somewhere.

Band Of Outlaws is a very fast horse, and a very good one, but I don’t think four-year-olds have a great record in this race. The only time he ran against older horses over hurdles he couldn’t beat Thomas Hobson.

Of the two four-year-olds in today’s race, I’d prefer his stablemate Gardens Of Babylon, who also ran once against older horses over hurdles, but he won.

Riven Light is a two-time Colm Quinn Mile winner. I rode him on his last outing over hurdles, at Punchestown in April 2017, and I don’t think he stayed. He was a five-year-old then, so I don’t see how he’ll stay now. He’ll probably look a certainty in the dip, but the winning post isn’t down there.

Paul has gone for Shanning. I thought she was a cert here last year, in a handicap off a mark of 126, but she got beaten, and she’s now off 136. I’m not sure she has much in hand, but she is in great form at home and Paul Townend is now stable jockey and he picked her, so her chance has to be respected.

If you’re looking for a lively outsider, you could do worse than consider Ejayteekay. He found himself in front too soon at Bellewstown last time. I can’t see him winning but wouldn’t be surprised if he ran into the money.

We run Dandy Mag in the beginners’ chase. He’s a fair horse but he hasn’t run in 781 days and faces a pretty tough introduction. This trip is further than he has run over before. That won’t be an issue but beating Early Doors off level weights may be. Early Doors is rated over 152 hurdles, which sets quite a standard, so it’s a tough task for Dandy Mag, but it’s great to have him back on the track and hopefully he’ll have many good days ahead.

My idea of the best bet of the day comes in the 2:35pm race at Goodwood in the shape of Threat. He was very unlucky when runner-up to Arizona in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot, and his trainer, Richard Hannon, believes he is the best horse he has had since Canford Cliffs. He can make up for that Ascot defeat by taking this race.

Getting back to Galway, there look to be four horses with a good chance in the Grade 3 novice chase, and Willie runs three. Cool Colonnade is stepping up considerably after his two wins and he has to concede weight to all the other. Also, I’m not sure Galway will suit him. I think he’s more of a flat-track horse, and I think the same could probably be said about Henry De Bromhead’s Moon Over Germany. His best performance was at Aintree, but Galway and Aintree are poles apart.

Wicklow Brave is a classy, classy horse and will take beating. I saw him schooling recently and he went well. His confidence is good, and he has improved since making a winning chasing debut at Ballinrobe.

He’s a genuine Grade 2 horse, whereas Robin De Carlow was a Grade 3 novice. Fair to say, she is younger and has plenty of potential to improve but I think Wicklow Brave will take beating today.

In the listed Corrib Stakes, I Remember You and Fire Fly are two highly rated horses for Ballydoyle but Donnacha O’Brien has opted for Cava, which is trained by Joseph. That looks like significant to me.

We run Foveros and Little Nugget in the novice hurdle. Little Nugget has done nothing wrong. She’s not very flashy but keeps winning, so it’s hard to find fault in her.

Foveros won on debut for us but was beaten next time, and I think that may be down to the fact we ran him back very quickly after his first run. I know the form of that second run, behind Morosini, took a bit of a bashing on Monday, but I think he has turned inside out since his last run. He couldn’t be a confident choice as this is a very competitive race, in which Doctor Duffy is sure to be well fancied, but he should go well.

Galway is notorious for horses running more than once - and often winning - but One Cool Poet, who runs in the 5:30pm race having won here on Tuesday evening, has been handed stall 18 and that may scupper his chance of joining the list of multiple winners.

The final race is due off at 5:59 which, I suppose, is Guinness Time. We run Valley Breeze, but he’d have to improve on what he has shown so far. All Those Years, trained by Charles Byrnes, has been well touted and could be the one.

Ruby’s tips



2:25 Goodwood 


Wicklow Brave

2:35 Galway 


4:55 Galway

Podcast: Ruby Walsh talks racing, retirement and the Galway Races

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