Galway Festival tips: The Shunter can strike to continue a famous family tradition

The Shunter has already scooped a £100,000 bonus this year and looks set to continue the Mullins family’s success story in the Galway Plate
Galway Festival tips: The Shunter can strike to continue a famous family tradition

The Shunter and Jordan Gainford win the Paddy Power Plate for owner Paul Byrne and trainer Emmet Mullins at Cheltenham last March. Picture: Healy Racing

Ante-post favourite The Shunter looks the horse to beat in today's €250,000 Tote Galway Plate.

The eight-year-old, equally adept over hurdle and fences, has already scooped a £100,000 bonus this year and looks set to continue the Mullins family’s success story in the Plate and give owner JP McManus an eighth win in the highlight of the summer jumps programme.

The Shunter bagged the bonus when winning the Paddy Power Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, having previously won the Morebattle Hurdle in Kelso.

And, if he lands today’s big pot, he’ll give his trainer Emmet Mullins a first Plate success, continuing a famous family tradition — his grandfather Paddy and uncles Willie, Tony, and Tom have all won the race.

Following his Cheltenham win, The Shunter performed creditably, despite some sloppy jumping, to finish second to Protektorat in a Grade One novice at Aintree and, when last seen, was a close third to Koshari (also in today’s field) in a competitive handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

Simon Torrens will claim a valuable 3lb on The Shunter and, with luck in running and a solid round of jumping, he should be tough to beat.

The selection is one of five carrying the McManus colours, a group which also includes Joseph O’Brien’s pair Darasso, runner-up to Sole Pretender in the Grimes Hurdle last time, and Mark Walsh’s mount Top Moon, and the Cathal Byrnes-trained Off You Go.

Gigginstown House Stud is chasing a fifth Plate with a trio of challengers, headed by enigmatic top-weight Samcro, the mount of 5lb claimer Jordan Gainford.

Surprisingly, Willie Mullins has only landed this prize once, with Blazing Tempo. But he has a formidable six-strong team today, including last year’s runner-up Royal Rendezvous, the mount of champion jockey Paul Townend.

At the bottom of the weights, Koshari, rated 10lb lower over fences and successful last time in a competitive handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, catches the eye, in first-time blinkers.

But he’ll have to improve his jumping to make a telling impact in such a hot race as this.

On the supporting card, Mullins might land the listed Tote+ Placepot Pays More Novice Hurdle with Dark Voyager, a runaway maiden winner at Tipperary back in May.

And another with obvious claims for Closutton is Lasparas in the two-mile, five-furlong maiden hurdle.

A winning ‘pointer’, this fellow impressed when justifying long odds-on favouritism, on his racecourse debut, in a Tramore bumper in June and is a potentially smart stayer.

The market should prove a guide to the two bumpers. But The Shunter’s stable-companion Merlin Giant, well-backed when fourth to Adamantly Chosen on his debut at the Punchestown Festival, appeals in the finale.

SELECTIONS 

John Ryan 

4.35. Getaway Queen 

5.10. Dark Voyager 

5.45. Lasparas (n.b.) 

6.15. The Shunter 

6.45. Merry Poppins 

7.15. Tiger Voice 

7.45. Fanoir 

8.15. Merlin Giant (Nap) 

Next Best 

4.35. Ena Baie 

5.10. Annie G 

5.45. Lonesome Boatman 

6.15. Koshari 

6.45. Dalton Highway 

7.15. Star Max 

7.45. Mary Meehan 

8.15. Esperti

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