It’s Galway Plate day and to me the feature starts at the top: if Noel Meade has Road To Riches in the same form as he had in Cheltenham or Punchestown then he will win.
I think the handicapper has given him a serious chance, running off a mark of 162 with 11-10 to carry. The last time I rode the top weight in this race it was Moscow Express, and he had to carry 12-2.
Road To Riches is a Gold Cup horse, a genuine Grade 1 horse, and that’s what I think the Plate revolves around.
I could have ridden Alelchi Inois, Devils Bride or Ballycasey, but went for Ballycasey because I think to win today’s renewal you will have to be on a horse who has or had good graded form.
The shape Road To Riches will put on this race will require a horse of that class, and somewhere in there, in Ballycasey’s form, he beat Don Cossack and Carlingford Lough. Albeit as a novice, it tells us he has that ability, he was up that standard, and he has only 10-7 to carry today.
I think the middle part of the race will be most interesting. If Road To Riches has had a little luck early, and been able to find his rhythm, he will really put it up to the other runners. Handicappers need a breather in the middle of their races, whereas genuine Grade 1 horses can sustain the early gallop, and that will make all the difference today.
I think Flight Lieutenant, with just 10-9 on his back, has to be given serious consideration, and another class horse is Henry De Bromhead’s Home Farm. They, along with Ballycasey and Road To Riches, are the four horses in the race that have achieved most, and I’ll be surprised if one of them does not win the Plate. John Thomas always said ‘chalk it down’ and, to borrow one of his favourites phrases, chalk it down to Road To Riches, the best horse in the race.
My only other mount today is Comehere Hi in the mares’ handicap. I rode her once before, for James Nash, when she finished third in a maiden hurdle at Bellewstown. She comes here on the back of a good run in second place behind Chitu at Kilbeggan, and has a chance in what looks a competitive race.
Looking through the rest of the card, Sweet Company must have a chance in the mile-and-a-half maiden. The booking of Nina Carberry for Tony Martin’s five-year-old looks significant, and he can step up on his recent outing at Ballinrobe. Silver Concorde will surely win the maiden hurdle which opens the card. He had an entry in the Galway Hurdle and any horse which was thought good enough to have an entry in that race is good enough to win a maiden hurdle at this time of year.
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