And so it begins. The annual week of the Galway Festival, when that glittering arts & music jewel in Ireland’s crowning west coast is overrun by hugely amiable, and hugely drunk crowds of race-goers.
The narrow hilly streets of central Galway are reflected in the idiosyncrasies of the Ballybrit racecourse. It’s an odd enough flat course, with a steep turning final 3f, but an even odder jumps course, the chase course in particular features a final pair of fences close enough they’d be classed as a combination at Hickstead. That said, for us, peculiarity breeds content, as it throws up some useful betting angles.
The feature race on day 1 is the 2m flat handicap (1940 BST). This is packed full of interesting horses, many of whom have useful jumps form. Last year’s winner Swamp Fox must have a chance of repeating off a 10lb higher mark. Miles to Memphis goes well for the useful Lisa O’Neill, and Mullins’ Lagostovegas is hard to assess albeit a whopping 17lbs higher than last time. We prefer useful hurdler Rashaan. He is only 6lbs higher than his last flat win, which looks generous given that his victim that day, St Lawrence Gap has won twice since and now re-opposes 15lbs higher than that day. Rashaan can lift this in what may be a busy week for the horse.
The following 12f handicap (2010) may not be as strong as it looks. Eagle Spirit has a daunting 10st to lumber, whilst Acclamatio has to prove his 33/1 win last time was no fluke. Instead the Jessica Harrington trained Hyperdrive looks to have form and a racing weight and can complete a hat-trick of wins.
The market may not be such a useful guide for the 2m handicap hurdle (1755). We have done our money on Artful Artist a few times over hurdles, and we are not alone. The likely favourite here has started favourite in 6 of his 7 handicap hurdles, without registering a success. This race is week enough but can he be trusted?
The in-form Joseph O’Brien yard saddles Successor, who could be anything as he has shown nothing so far. He has a very low weight and will cause suspicion if supported by legendary gambling owner JP McManus. We though think a shock is on the cards and we like the angle of first time blinkers and a step back in trip for Crazywork De Vassy. Hopefully a strong pace here could suit and he looks ready to step forward after a couple of nice quiet runs. He looks overpriced.
The same logic applies in the 7f handicap (1905). The legendary Dermot Weld factor is likely to play hard in the market for the first-time visored Rich History. It’s Weld’s own rich history that punters will be backing as the horse has shown nothing yet, but he is obviously to be feared.
We prefer the quiet promise of High Altitude. He stepped out of maidens to take on older horses at Leopardstown last time. He stayed on nicely into 6th looking capable of better. That formed has worked out well, and stepping back into 3yo company and on a nice stiff finish, he can outrun his lengthy odds.
Crazywork De Vassy (1755 Galway), 0.5pts each way, 16/1 generally available
High Altitude (1905 Galway), 0.5 pts each way, 16/1 generally available
Crazywork De Vassy & High Altitude, 0.5pts each way double.
Rashaan (1940 Galway), 1pt win, 13/2 generally available
Hyperdrive (2010 Galway), 1pt win, 4/1 generally available
Rashaan & Hyperdrive, 1pt win double, c36/1.
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