It will be mildly surprising should Dermot Weld totally dominate Galway next week in the way he has done many times in the past.
Weld has been the leading trainer at the festival on no less than 28 occasions and four years ago saddled a remarkable 17 winners over the seven days.
Last year he had nine winners and, you’d imagine, a figure in that region might be regarded as a realistic target this time around.
After all, Weld has already enjoyed an excellent year and fired an awful lot of ammunition in the first half of the campaign.
He says he is going to be down on numbers for Galway and, by his own admission, will be well short when it comes to horses for the National Hunt races.
But, at the same time, don’t be fooled into thinking he hasn’t had at least one eye on Ballybrit for a while now and will saddle a number of horses that have been laid out especially for the meeting.
Weld has long farmed the two-year-old maiden on Monday night, but it was a trifle disappointing when we didn’t note his Ample Sufficiency in the contest. He does have four possibilities, but none of them rates as a stand out.
Mind you, Ample Sufficiency only made his debut at Leopardstown nine days ago and impressed in finishing third behind Miss Gossip and Hazamar.
There was a lot to like about the way he stuck to his task at the end of that seven furlongs and is of obvious interest going forward.
There is also, of course, a suitable one-mile plus maiden next Saturday at Galway for him, but I gather he won’t show in that either. We spoke about Weld’s Silver Concorde here last week and, hopefully, he will do the job in a maiden hurdle this week.
On Monday night Weld’s First Figaro catches the eye in the Bumper. He has clearly been put away with Galway in mind.
Twice raced, First Figaro hasn’t been seen since finishing a head second behind David Pipe’s well regarded Champers On Ice at the Punchestown festival at the of April.
The fact it was 28 lengths back to the third is self-explanatory.
Two other Weld-trained horses to keep in mind are New Agenda and Good Tradition.
New Agenda, a once-raced son of New Approach, should prove hard to beat in whatever maiden the maestro deems to be appropriate.
He made his debut at Navan at the end of May and to say he ran with promise would be an understatement.
The three-year-old was beaten into third behind a pair of smart sorts in Aidan O’Brien’s Outspoken and Jim Bolger’s Salthouse and the fourth and fifth horses respectively, Botany Bay and Swordfight, have both scored in the meantime.
Good Tradition has had just one run this season — the four-year-old has actually only been seen three times in all — and that was at Killarney in the middle of May.
A thorough stayer, Good Tradition won that day by six lengths and is set to turn up on Friday night at Galway in the contest won last year by Weld’s Forgotten Rules.
Bet of the meeting? Weld’s Zafayan, third behind subsequent Ascot Gold Cup hero, Trip To Paris, and Tony Martin’s Quick Jack, in the Chester Cup in May, is of interest in a novice hurdle on Tuesday night.
But the evidence thus far suggests he is nowhere near as good over jumps and is likely to face a big challenge from Willie Mullins, who has three smart horses entered in Bachasson, Gangster and Long Dog.
The ex-French Bachasson won a nothing race in a canter on his Irish debut at Sligo and we’d just love to see him again.
At Killarney last Wednesday week, Aidan O’Brien introduced a newcomer in a bumper called Exactoris.
Apparently rated as far from useless and carrying the J P McManus colours, the son of Shantou was nicely supported in the market and went off a strong 5-2 second favourite.
He proceeded to act the maggot down at the start, however, and that included tossing off his pilot, Sarah O’Brien.
To put it mildly, Exactoris appeared to have little or no interest in running and the vultures on the exchanges soon began to hawk him big time.
But run he did and performed, perfectly predictably, deplorably in trailing home a bad fifth.
Punters who backed him, and there were buckets of them, never had a prayer and anyone else think he should have been withdrawn?
Next Wednesday we will find out just good Gleneagles really is when he takes on the older horses for the first time in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Among those rivals will be Freddy Head’s five-year-old, Solow, fresh from his success in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
It is going to represent a fascinating challenge for Gleneagles, but expect him to come through with flying colours.
David Wachman’s Clear Skies is one for the notebook. She made her debut when fourth to Aidan O’Brien’s Shogun at the Curragh last Saturday, doing all of her best work at the end of seven furlongs. I cannot see her exiting this season as a maiden.
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