Galway Festival tips: Classy Belfast Banter can shrug off rise in weights

Belfast Banter has won at Cheltenham and Aintree this year and can add to his account at the Galway Races
Galway Festival tips: Classy Belfast Banter can shrug off rise in weights

Belfast Banter after winning for jockey Kevin Sexton at Aintree last April. Picture: Healy Racing

Although facing a stiff task at the weights against some of his County Hurdle victims, Belfast Banter still looks the horse to beat in today’s €250,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle.

Beaten at this festival last year before winning his maiden hurdle over course and distance in October, Peter Fahey’s six-year-old made giant strides in the spring and, off a career-high mark of 144, might arrive late on the scene to lift the €147.500 winner’s prize.

A hold-up horse, Belfast Banter came through late to land the County Hurdle in Cheltenham (off 129), beating Petit Mouchoir, Milkwood and Éclair de Beaufeu, with Ciel De Neige back in ninth.

Today, he meets the third and fourth on significantly worse terms, which is a major concern. But the Jeremy gelding produced an even more significant performance at Aintree, when outpointing Do Your Job and Dusart in the Grade 1 Betway Top Novices Hurdle.

Today, Kevin Sexton’s mount faces the biggest test of his career. But he looks progressive, the race should suit him and with a good pace virtually guaranteed, Sexton will be in no hurry delivering his challenge.

On 8lb. and 16lb. better terms respectively, the lone British-trained challenger Milkwood, trained by Neil Mulholland and winner of the Scottish Champion (Handicap) Hurdle at Ayr last time, and Cullentra runner Éclair de Beaufeu deserves plenty of respect.

Topping the weights is Grade 1 winner Saldier, bidding to give Willie and Patrick Mullins a third win in the race in four years, with top-weights, following the victories of Sharjah and Aramon.

Competing on the Flat in recent starts, Saldier, at his best, would have every chance, along with stable- companion Ciel De Neige, held on County Hurdle form but overdue a change of luck in top handicap hurdles, with first-time blinkers on today, and the third Closutton runner Burning Victory, winner of the 2020 Triumph Hurdle.

A McManus-owned quartet features last year’s runner-up Hearts Are Trumps and dark horse Magic Tricks, in addition to Ciel De Neige and Bellewstown scorer Winner Takes Itall.

Others to consider include the Emmet Mullins-trained Cape Gentleman, winner of the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton and a former Irish Cesarewitch winner. He looks unexposed and has a big chance in a fascinating contest.

As always, Willie Mullins has plenty of chances on the supporting card. And M C Muldoon, narrowly beaten by Reshoun in the Ascot Stakes, at Royal Ascot, last time, will be a popular fancy for the Guinness Novice Hurdle.

M C Muldoon’s hurdle form includes a distant second to classy stable-companion Echoes In Rain in a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse. And he might have the edge over Joseph O’Brien’s hat-trick-seeking Banbridge.

And, although beaten at long odds-on in Tipperary last time, free-going Tax For Max is preferred to the Emmet Mullins-trained Carrarea in the opening Guinness Novice Hurdle.

SELECTIONS 

John Ryan 

4.35. Tax For Max 

5.10. Streets Of Doyen 

5.45. Bold Enough 

6.15. Belfast Banter 

6.45. Clonbury Bridge 

7.15. M C Muldoon (Nap) 

7.45. It Could Be You 

8.15. Dads Lad 

Next Best 

4.35. Carrarea 

5.10. Bleu Berry 

5.45. Gin On Lime 

6.15. Cape Gentleman 

6.45. Karawaan 

7.15. Banbridge 

7.45. Hewick 

8.15. Spanish Present

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