The Galway Festival, albeit not as we know it, gets underway today and Royal Canford, who was a shade unlucky here last year, can make amends in the first division of the Galmont.com & Galwaybayhotel.com Handicap.
Willie McCreery’s filly has her quirks, but she showed what she is capable of when winning a Curragh Maiden in September. It was not the strongest of races, but she deserved that breakthrough success and the way she coped with cut in the ground bodes well for today’s softening conditions.
A recent outing at Leopardstown, in a handicap which has worked out well (third, fourth and sixth have all won since), should have put her spot on for this, and she can make up for last year’s near miss.
The Mpex Kid was impressive last time and can follow up in the second division of the 50-80 handicap. Dot Love’s runner has gone up 11lbs for that runaway success but that was his first run of the season, his handicap debut and he is entitled to take another step forward. Qaabil, with cheekpieces fitted for the first time, can reach the frame.
Celtic Crown can take the Eventus Handicap for the in-form stable of John Murphy. The filly caught the eye finishing runner-up to Haparanda in Killarney and went one place better when getting up late to beat Bestrella next time.
The latter race was back over nine and a half furlongs, which was plenty sharp enough for her, and she can take a big step forward moving up to 12 and a half furlongs around this testing track. The demands of the race should bring out the best in her, and she can deny the hat-trick-seeking Elizabethofaragon and the unexposed Dark Voyager.
The feature on the card is the Connacht Hotel QR Race and it can go to recent Ladies’ Derby winner Princess Zoe. Trained by Tony Mullins, she ran a huge race on her Irish debut, when runner-up to Walking On Glass, and bolted up in the ladies’ feature last weekend at the Curragh.
She has been raised 13lbs for that win, but it should not be enough to prevent a follow up. Classy hurdler Sharjah is an obvious danger.
Charles and Phillip Byrnes can take the finale, the 12-and-a-half-furlong Monami Construction Maiden, with Thosedaysaregone. His latest run, over two miles, is best forgotten, but prior to that he finished a fine fourth behind Shanroe over today’s trip.
A useful hurdler, who finished third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, he can do enough to see off Mt Leinster, who is similarly rated over timber and whose brother Diamond Hill and half-brother Blackstairmountain both won this race.
If it weren’t for the wide draw, Thaleeq would be a very strong play in the claytonhotelgalway.ie Handicap. Dermot Weld’s horse was unlucky in running last time, at Limerick, where he caught the eye finishing third to Call Me Rocky. With cheekpieces fitted for his handicap debut, he could be a different proposition but must break quickly to overcome the draw.
4:10 Trusted Ally
5:15 Royal Canford (nap)
5:45 The Mpex Kid (nb)
6:15 Globe Theatre
6:45 Princess Zoe
7:15 Celtic Crown
4:10 Blue For You
7:15 Dark Voyager
7:45 Mt Leinster