I thought there were only three or four horses in the Galway Plate that were unexposed and it was easy to put a line through a number of them, but I think it’s very hard to rule horses out of the Galway Hurdle.
Of Willie’s five runners, you’d have to think the two-mile trip would be too sharp for Thousand Stars. He looks to be a better horse over further, but the other four have their chances. Aminabad won well last week at Ballinrobe, and got the penalty he needed to get into this race. He’ll love the ground, and should go well.
Max Dynamite’s Northumberland Plate form looks very good, but his jumps form has not been as strong. He needs to jump slicker than he has in the past if he’s to get competitive.
Wicklow Brave was stunning in the Country Hurdle, at the Cheltenham Festival, and his few runs on the flat have been very good. Obviously he didn’t stay in Ascot, but you can’t hold that against him, and he has an outstanding chance.
But I’ve gone for Diakali. I think he probably has the ability to be placed in a Champion Hurdle, which means running to a rating of 163 or 164, and he’s running in today’s race off a mark of 153.
I would have loved it to have started raining about six o’clock yesterday evening. That would suit down to the ground, as he handles soft ground, and plenty of them wouldn’t. But, he won on fast ground at Tipperary, and so we won’t be using that as an excuse.
I know he has top weight, but it’s a limited handicap (11-07 to 10-01), so I won’t be too worried about that either, and he’s in great form. I’m very hopeful of a big run.
Of the others, Thomas Edison has to be respected. When you look at the replay of last year’s race, you see he bolted in. He came off the bend and AP (McCoy) had to take a pull on him. Barry (Geraghty) rides him today, and he definitely has a chance.
Quick Jack scooted home in the GPT (Qualified Riders’ race) here last year, and he, too, has a massive chance, off a low weight. Marchese Marconi also has a life, but there is an unbelievable number of horses with a chance. It’s a race with €300,000 in prize-money, and great to see it has the field to back it up.
Elsewhere on the card, I get the opportunity to ride two horses I wouldn’t otherwise be on, as Gigginstown House’s retained rider, Bryan Cooper, is still sidelined. One of those is As De Ferbet, who runs in the beginners’ chase, over two mile six.
On form he’d have a really good chance, but whether or not he really wants ground as fast as he’ll have to contend with today is the concern. He was placed in a similar race at Punchestown on New Year’s Day, but that was on really testing ground. He made his comeback at Kilbeggan a couple of weeks ago and, while he went on the quicker ground there, I’m not sure it’s exactly what he wants.
He jumped really well at Kilbeggan and should run a good race.
In the Guinness Novice Hurdle, Gangster was very impressive when he won in Roscommon. We think he’s a really nice horse, and our other novices this week won well so we’d be hopeful he could keep that going. I rode him in work earlier in the week and he gave me a nice feel. He’s definitely going the right direction, and should go very close.
Galway and HRI missed trick with Hurdle entries
I think Galway and the HRI have missed a trick with the Galway Hurdle. It’s such a big race, with total prize-money of €300,000, it’s no surprise so many horses want to run in it.
I think the entries should have been made a lot earlier, the weights issued much earlier, and there should have been three ‘win and you’re in’ races.
The handicap hurdle here on Monday night could have been the last ‘win and you’re in’ race, for horses which are in the handicap but who have 9-10, 9-11 or anywhere down as far as 9-04 or 9-05.
With a penalty from the handicapper, to a max of 7lbs, the winner should be in the Galway Hurdle.
With all due respect to the horses that ran on Monday, instead of being an 80–109, it could have been a cracking handicap hurdle.
Bellewstown at the start of July could also have staged one of those qualifiers, as could Killarney in July — it would have upped the profile of those meetings.
Galway on Monday may not have needed the help, but raising the profile of the other meetings may have attracted bigger crowds.
You’d have had an awful lot more horses taking their chances in those races, they’d have been far more competitive, and could have had their prize-money boosted.
Only the winner should get its place in the hurdle.
If, for some reason that horse couldn’t take his place, it shouldn’t go to the ones in behind.
What it would mean is just 17 open slots in the hurdle itself, and three kept for those other races.
I think you would have created an awful lot more hype and publicity around the Galway Hurdle, and a race of its stature and value deserves that.
It’s something that should be looked into in the future.