Racing off the same mark as when chasing home subsequent Group 1 winner Princess Zoe in the race last year, Run For Mary has solid claims for the Byrnes family in the featured Connacht Hotel Amateur Handicap on the opening day of the 2021 Galway Festival.
Cathal Byrnes, whose father Charles won this race with Rockstown Boy back in 2004, has enjoyed a steady stream of winners in recent weeks, as temporary custodian of the trainer’s licence. And Run For Mary, with Philip on board, must have rock-solid claims today.
Winner of two bumpers, she has triumphed three times on the Flat, including an amateur handicap, when ridden by Philip, at Bellewstown last summer before running a cracker here to be beaten a length and a quarter by Princess Zoe, who went on to win the Group 1 Prix de Cadran.
Run For Mary went on to disappoint, when joint-favourite, in the Irish Cesarewitch but improved on that performance to finish sixth behind one of today’s rivals De Name Escapes Me in the Naas November Handicap.
The seven-year-old Flemensfirth mare was off the track over the winter, but returned to win a recent Limerick handicap readily under Colin Keane.
Run For Mary must overcome a bad draw, but, with luck in running, looks well-enough treated to run a big race in a very competitive renewal of the traditional Monday feature.
Willie Mullins has a fine record in the race, having won it three times in the last four years. And he could win it again, with any of his six challengers, a team spear-headed by Hook Up, the mount of Patrick, who is still awaiting his first win in the race.
Placed at Grade One level over hurdles, Hook Up was last seen when third to Chiricahua at Killarney in May.
Lightly-raced Exchange Rate, fourth to another of the Mullins challengers My Sister Sarah at Listowel in June, catches the eye at the bottom of the handicap while Foveros is bidding to defy an 18lb rise for a win at the Curragh on Guineas weekend.
Others to note include Denis Hogan’s four-year-old Zoffanien, rated higher over hurdles than his rivals, and racing off 83 here, and the John Kiely-trained The Names Jock, up 8lb for his recent second to Ever Present at Leopardstown.
The Monday card, including five handicaps, looks treacherous for punters, with Aidan O’Brien’s once-raced Galileo colt, Anchorage, a promising third to Unconquerable on debut in Naas, probably appealing to many in the opening two-year-old maiden, despite the likely challenge from Dermot Weld’s debutant Duke De Sassa.
Last year’s runner-up Ciel D’afrique, Gavin Cromwell’s English import Dutch Schultz, and the Byrnes hope Elusive Rain will all be leading fancies for the finale, the Monami Construction Amateur Maiden, but might not cope with long-absent, three-time course winner Zero Ten, ridden for his cousin Emmet by Patrick Mullins.
4.10 Anchorage (Nap)
4.40 Mother Country
5.15 Royal Pippen
5.45 Mr Coldstone (NB)
6.15 Run For Mary
6.45 National Ballet
7.15 Zero Ten
4.10 Duke De Sessa
4.40 Rock Etoile
5.15 Fridtjof Nansen
6.15 Hook Up
6.45 Port Sunlight
7.15 Ciel A’afrique