For racing fans, the last Wednesday in July is all about the Galway Plate in Ballybrit and the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.
If you’re a fan of the sport, there’s no doubt you’re drawn to both meetings. Poetic Flare in the Sussex Stakes is as big an attraction for Irish fans as the Galway Plate is in Ballybrit and his performance in the St James’s Palace Stakes was outstanding.
If there was one worry looking at it from a professional’s point of view, maybe it’s his draw.
Being drawn so close to the inside on a tricky track like Goodwood could bring traffic problems. Having said that, like all people that are good at things, everybody learns from mistakes.
And I think if Kevin Manning was to ride Poetic Flare in the French Guineas again, he’d ride him a different way. He’d a similar draw around Longchamp and took him back after going a furlong and a half and got caught in a pocket.
So, once bitten, twice shy and I think Poetic Flare will be ridden quite close to the pace and with the performance he put up in Ascot, I think he’ll be equally as good in Goodwood to cement himself as the leading miler in training.
Galway is lucky. It has a big feature handicap every day but the Plate and the Hurdle are the races with the richest history.
I was fortunate enough to win two Galway Plates but I was placed in a lot more than I won.
It’s an extremely competitive race, it’s always a great race to ride in, it’s run at a high tempo and to me it always suited a horse who was stepping up in trip rather than a horse who was coming back down in trip.
Even though its two miles and six and Galway has such a steep finish, it doesn’t suit slow horses and I think you need to have pace, you need horses who can attack, who are going to go at their fences and take them on.
If you’re riding a horse who likes to find his feet and creep away, you always seem to be playing catch-up and you look like you’re the horse flying home. But actually you weren’t unlucky, you just weren’t fast enough.
That would be my worry for Koshari of Willie’s. I know he won over two and a half miles over hurdles on his last start but over fences he might just need a little more time to get on his feet. The Shunter of Emmet Mullins’ will have to jump a little better than he jumped at Liverpool to win. That said, that was a Grade One novice chase so he’s a worthy favourite.
Paul Townend has gone with Royal Rendezvous who was second last year. In hindsight, he probably got trapped a little further back than he would have liked and I can see Paul riding him a little closer to the pace but he’s 7lb higher than he was last year so he’s going to have to have improved if he’s going to win.
Brahma Bull won over three miles at Punchestown and I think Galway will just be too sharp for him.
As for Easy Game and Livelovelaugh, they both have plenty of weight and probably need to come down the ratings a bit to be competitive.
If I was steering punters in any direction on Willie’s horses, it would probably be Annamix each-way. I think he has the pace, he’s a brilliant jumper and he’ll be able to be in the right place all of the race for Patrick Mullins. Whether he’ll climb the hill or not, I don’t know but he’s a big price and I think coming out of the dip, if you’ve backed him each-way, you’ll be getting a good run for your money.
Hopefully all 22 declared runners will take their chance but, while I understand why the cut-off point for reserves was 10am on Tuesday, I don’t agree with it. The reason we have reserves is to give everybody a chance and to have full fields in big races. I know people will look at it from a punting point of view, but the other side of that coin is you don’t have to bet ante-post, you can bet on the day.
Therefore, I think the owners should be given the chance to run for this sort of prize-money. To me, the cut-off point should be three or four hours before the first race of the day because if there’s two non-runners on Wednesday, it’ll be some sickener for the first and second reserves to be stood at home.
Lasparas only won a bumper in Tramore but sometimes too much can be read into tracks, especially with Willie Mullins, and I’d say Lasparas is a pretty decent horse. I’d be fairly confident he’ll collect in the maiden hurdle. I know Willie runs Rayapour as well but I was disappointed with him in Kilbeggan and I think Lasparas will win.
We run Dark Voyager in the novice hurdle. He was first and second at this meeting last year and bolted up in a maiden hurdle lately. You’ve got to love horses who like Galway. And Dark Voyager has shown a liking for it in the past.
In the opening race, Dysart Diamond has a lot of weight. She stays well and Jack Foley claims 7lbs of her but there has to be something better handicapped than her.
Klassy Kay, who runs in the 6.45pm contest, seems to be a bit of an enigma. Not too many 10-1 shots of Willie Mullins’ win around Wexford but she did and Jody Townend got a good tune out of her that day. The track will suit her and while she’s been a bit hit and miss, I don’t think she’s done improving.
Andalusa is definitely a better chaser than she was a hurdler but I wouldn’t be convinced she’s a Galway horse, it could be a long way up the hill for her in the 7.15pm race.
In the 7.45pm, Patrick has gone for Mary Meehan over Memorable Daise and that’s a hint enough for me.
The jockey bookings probably tell their own story in the last race. Patrick is teaming up with Emmet again. That paid dividends in the last on Monday and can do so again.