Gimli’s Rock my best hope of a winner at Galway Festival

You’re afraid to talk about how well the yard is going for fear of jinxing it but I couldn’t be happier at the moment, as the last few weeks have been very good. Mind you, I was beginning to have my doubts last Saturday evening.

Jowango won at Kilbeggan on Friday and holds an entry for Galway but I had a very quiet time the next day at The Curragh when a few of the horses ran disappointingly.

I was hoping for Miss Estrada to run well but she only finished sixth and looking at it, I may have run her a bit quick after Naas. We found nothing wrong with her so it just may have been an error on my part.

Roicead was a bit of a disappointment too. He had a bit of a wind issue before he ever ran and whether there’s something there related to that I don’t know. We’ll just have to get it checked out.

We couldn’t even run Bobskier because she scoped wrong in the morning. When you have a day like that, you start to get quite nervous about the next one, especially as Sunday was a big one for me.

I was hoping for a good run from Pathfork in the two-year-old colts’ race but after what had happened on Saturday, I was beginning to wonder if the horses had gone off the boil.

It was just one of those days as it happened because we have been going well since and Pathfork was very pleasing when winning on what was his racecourse debut.

I said to Shane Foley to keep it nice and simple, just pop him out and follow Johnny Murtagh, who was on Robin Hood the odds-on favourite trained by Aidan O’Brien, and keep it nice and easy as long as he could.

I couldn’t believe how easy he was going at the two-furlong marker and he won by four lengths after hitting the front at the furlong poll.

We’re probably going to run him next in the Futurity Stakes which is a Group 2 and we have him entered in the Royal Lodge at Ascot and in the Dewhurst as well. As two-year-olds, you’re waiting to see what you have when they go on the track although you have some idea. You have to make a long term plan and so the entries must be made but the next step has to go well before you take on the one after that.

One would hope that we have a good Guineas horse though and that’s exciting. There’s always a possibility when you have a good horse like that, it might be sold and it’s moved to another yard but hopefully that won’t happen here.

I was really thrilled with Maybe Grace winning at Naas on Wednesday. She’s entered in Galway but the handicapper hasn’t missed her this time and she’s at 94. Everything would need to go right for her to win there so we may run her in a listed race at Cork the Sunday after. She’s won four races, including her last two, so she deserves to go for a bit of black type now.

Fuschia Belle was my fourth winner in seven days at Limerick on Thursday. She’d had a good run in what I thought was a good bumper at Clonmel the last time and came on for that again. The extra distance also suited her.

At Leopardstown, Alamanda was just touched off by a head and that was a much improved run from her previous effort when last over a mile at The Curragh. I worked her much harder since then, put her up to 1¼ miles and put on blinkers and they did the trick.

You’re constantly learning about the horses and what might be their ideal conditions. I was just looking at her that last time and she was looking big in herself so I thought to myself ‘you need plenty of work’. The more work she’s gotten, the happier she has seemed in herself. We already had cheekpieces on her so we just decided to go the whole hog with the blinkers.

Of course the week everyone is waiting for is almost upon us. Galway is the festival to beat all festivals. With seven days, it’s actually more of a marathon than a festival.

There’s a great social element to the week of course and while you get a hardcore group who are there the entire time, it’s unusual in that you generally have three different groups.

One group arrives on Monday and stays a few days, the next take in the middle of the week and then you have a new gang that arrive for the weekend.

And of course everyone who likes to have a bet knows that Dermot Weld is the top man there. This is the place for him. He has lots of horses of course but he just gets himself geared up for Galway.

A lot of my plans will depend on the weather and I will be able to discuss that during the week, starting here on Monday. But I can tell you now, I would definitely like the ground to dry out.

While I have nothing entered in the Galway Plate, I have four in the Galway Hurdle. No One Tells Me is definitely in but the other three need others to come out so they have been given other engagements as well in case.

Gimli’s Rock is probably my main hope as he won over hurdles in Punchestown and has been second in two premier handicaps. But everything will be much clearer over the next couple of days.


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