With the exception of the first race, in which Muthaza will likely go off the shortest priced favourite of the entire week, the card for the first day of the Galway Festival looks wide open.
Even the juvenile maiden, traditionally dominated by Dermot Weld and Aidan O’Brien, who have won the last 10 runnings of the race, may not be as straight-forward as the betting will suggest.
The nap goes to Camlann, who can take the 20-runner Easyfix Handicap Hurdle for Shark Hanlon. The five-year-old earned a breakthrough victory on the level last time out and that run should have put him spot-on for a similar success over hurdles.
Last time over timber, in a handicap at Leopardstown, he finished a promising fifth behind Whatsforuwontgobyu, and that effort suggested a mark of 100, off which he ran then and today, is well within compass for the potentially progressive gelding. A small bit of an ease in the ground would help but so well handicapped does he look, he can take this at the expense of Sarwistan and Deputy Marshall.
The feature on the card is the Connacht Hotel Qualified Riders’ race and Kalann can land the spoils for Denis Hogan. A high-class juvenile hurdler in younger days, the now nine-year-old had his first run for this stable in May of this year and cut little ice on that occasion. Clearly it has taken time for him to come to himself but his last two outings have been much more encouraging.
Last time out he finished second, beaten just half a length, behind one of this evening’s rivals, Asbury Boss, and could be considered a little unlucky as the winner was gifted an easy lead, and the two finished well clear of the remainder. While he had no luck in two previous runs in this race, he has improved since, and looks to be back on an upward curve after a lull in his form.
In what is clearly a tricky race, others to consider are Ted Veale, who is just 4lb higher than when beaten less than a length into third place behind Modem in this race last year, the unexposed Lagostovegas, and Roconga.
The 15-runner claytonhotelgalway.ie handicap, over seven furlongs, is another potential minefield, but there was enough promise in the most recent effort of Atlas to suggest he could outrun likely double-figure odds.
A touch frustrating thus far, the son of Acclamation has never run at a shorter trip than a mile and, while he may without a trip, there was enough evidence in his recent runs to suggest a drop back to seven furlongs could be a shrewd move by connections.
Last time out, in a maiden won by the potentially high-class Reckless Gold, the Michael O’Callaghan-trained colt was still heavily involved with a couple of furlongs to go, but failed to pick up. There was no shame in that, given the level of the race, and this is clearly a significant drop back in class for the three-year-old. In the expectation the trip will suit, he should run very well at a big price.
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