What a start it was for the Galway festival with an increase in attendance figures on the Monday from last year.
That was incredible given the current financial climate and the fact that it wasn’t the nicest of evenings; it was a bit cold and drizzly.
It might have only been a marginal increase but everyone was predicting a drop because people are watching what they’re spending their money on now. But Galway is Galway, it’s a different breed.
I was talking to racecourse manager, John Moloney, and he was understandably delighted. He was telling me that they ran out of race cards such was the volume of people coming in the turnstiles.
It was a funny day for me in that the run that gave me most pleasure wasn’t one of my own at all.
Robin Hood won the two-year-old maiden and I was delighted to see that because Pathfork beat him by four lengths at The Curragh.
If Aidan O’Brien’s colt hadn’t won, you’d have worried that the maiden we won was not as a good a race as we thought. There were a lot of fancied horses in that race on Monday and Robin Hood didn’t even start favourite, so I think that was a good race and that reflects well on Pathfork.
On the whole, my horses probably ran a little disappointingly. I was delighted with Paintmaker, who probably ran above himself to finish fourth, while Lady Chatterbox pleased us too when sixth in the bumper. She got home well so that tells us the wind operation was a great success.
She probably needed that run and we’ll send her over hurdles very shortly, maybe even as soon as next week, depending on what opportunities are out there for her.
It didn’t work out for any of my three runners in the Qualifier Riders’ handicap. It was a very rough race but none of them seemed to get home. I was expecting more from all of them. To be fair to Alamanda, the ground was gone just a bit on the heavy side.
I had only one runner yesterday, Redzer Gazgoff in the maiden hurdle and to be honest, if he had finished in the first five, we would have treated it like a win.
Galway racing is always competitive and this year’s renewal of the Galway Plate mirrors that. To be honest, I’m finding it impossible to pick a winner and I won’t be alone in that I’m fairly certain.
I don’t have any runner and I rarely do because I haven’t had the good summer jumpers and you have to have a good summer jumper to win a Plate.
I remember Colca Canyon was brought down at the second fence when I fancied him in 2004. That race was one by that brilliant Galway horse, Ansar. It was the first of his back-to-back Plates and he had won the Hurdle before that.
It’s a rough and tumble race so you always need a bit of luck, especially when it’s as hot as it is this year.
Like Ansar, Cuan na Grai is a course specialist. He won the Hurdle four years ago and is in good form, but the one I’d fancy is Deutschland. I know Willie Mullins has high hopes for him and he always runs well in the big competitive handicaps.
It was amazing when we got the declarations yesterday morning that no horse on the ballot had got into the race. Every horse stood its ground and I’m a bit worried about that for the Hurdle.
Only one of mine – No One Tells Me – is in the race as it stands, while Gimli’s Rock, Dreamy Gent and Alpine Eagle would need a few to drop out.
I suppose people have now more or less decided that if they are going to pay the last forfeit, they’re going to run unless the horse goes lame or something like that.
Anyway, we’ll know our fate today but it’s not looking good for those three, which is a pity as I think Gimli’s Rock in particular could run a big race.
I have five runners today. Jowango and Sandymount Lady run in the first. I wasn’t going to run the two of them but there were only six others declared so I said I might as well. Gordon Elliott’s Final Day looks the one to beat.
I would think Sandymount Lady would be the best of mine but Jowango might stay a little better. Sandymount has won her only race over hurdles and had a good rest after a consistent few runs on the flat so I’m hopeful with her.
False Evidence hasn’t run since falling in Punchestown at the festival in April and he came back lame from that. I’m hoping he’ll put in a good account of himself. He will stay on well and I hope I have him fit enough. Whatever happens, he will go chasing shortly. He’s a grand big horse that will improve for the bigger obstacles.
Kate rides Takeyourcapoff in the Qualified Riders’ maiden but that is a very competitive race although I’d be hopeful of a good showing.
New Magic has top weight in the handicap but he’s entitled to have that and Fran Berry rides. I was a little worried to be drawn 3 but with only 11 runners, she won’t be as wide as she might have been with 20. The draw does make a big difference here though.
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