Hefty Galway Plate burden for Follow The Plan

Three-times Grade One winner Follow The Plan has been given top weight of 11st 10lb in the tote.com Galway Plate.

Oliver McKiernan’s nine-year-old, whose latest success came in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree in April, could be joined by stablemate Whodoyouthink (10st 6lb) in the prestigious handicap chase over two and three-quarter miles on August 1.

The last two winners of this race, Blazing Tempo and Finger Onthe Pulse, have been handed 11st 3lb and 10st 5lb respectively.

Blazing Tempo’s trainer Willie Mullins has two other possibles in Blackstairmountain (10st 11lb) and Raptor (10st 2lb).

A typically strong entry also includes Muirhead (10st 7lb), Carlito Brigante (10st 5lb), Torphichen (10st 4lb), Definite Class (10st), Shot From The Hip (9st 12lb) and Devil’s Elbow (9st 9lb). Among the British-trained contingent are Evan Williams’ Tiger O’Toole (9st 10lb), Venetia Williams’s Idarah (9st 7lb) and the Nicky Richards-trained Peachey Moment (9st 7lb).

Meanwhile Tony Mullins has a contingency plan just in case Clarach does not make the cut for the Guinness Galway Hurdle.

The valuable handicap on Thursday, August 2 has been the long-term objective for the seven-year-old mare for some time.

But on studying the entries with weights, Mullins has discovered Clarach is not guaranteed a place in the maximum 20-strong field.

As a result, Mullins will take the precaution of entering the recent Limerick winner in a two-mile amateur handicap on the Flat on the Monday (July 30) at the Ballybrit track.

“We’ve been aiming at the Galway Hurdle all year. There’s also the two-mile amateur handicap on the Flat on the Monday and after seeing the entries she’s not yet certain to get in the hurdle,” said the Gowran trainer.

“She needs about seven to come out, so if there is a danger of her being balloted out of the Galway Hurdle we might have to divert to the Flat race.

“There’s a good chance she’ll get in, though, as there’s a good few horses that possibly might not make it there.

“The priority is the Galway Hurdle and a few horses have won both the amateur handicap and the Galway Hurdle and a lot have run in both. Tom’s (Mullins, brother) horse (Fosters Cross) won the amateur race on the Monday and was second in the Galway Hurdle last year, so it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened.

“The priority entry is the Galway Hurdle and if we are sure of getting in there I would imagine we’d go straight for it.”

Clarach has been given 10st 4lb in the 156,000 euro event with the weights headed on 11st 10lb by The Real Article.

Last year’s winner Moon Dice comes next on 11st 6lb with Captain Cee Bee on 11st 5lb and Sailors Warn on 11st 4lb.

Fosters Cross has 11st while Dirar, third in the last two renewals, is on 10st 12lb.

Among the British possibles are Steve Gollings’ Local Hero, Donald McCain’s Lexi’s Boy, Kevin Ryan’s Unknown Rebel and Idarah (Venetia Williams).

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