Galway: Friday Preview
Yesterday’s Galway Hurdle winning trainer Tony Martin, could get another winner on the board with Dark Crusader in the feature race today but has an even better chance with Redera in the opening 2m Guiness Handicap Hurdle. He had a nice prep run on the flat at Killarney recently, staying on nicely which should have him spot on for today. Galway Plate winning jockey Shane Shorthall claims 7lb which is a huge help as he’s a small horse. Another rising star Johnny Burke has a nice ride for John McConnell on Orgilgo Bay who brings Cheltenham form to the table. He won very easily last time at Downpatrick and demands plenty of respect. Bashful Beauty is also worth considering, especially as she beat Cacheofgold who won on Wednesday and was second to recent easy winner Grand Partner.
The 7f Maiden is interesting with both Dermot Weld’s Bleu Ciel et Rouge and Jessica Harrington’s Ernest Shackleton dropping from a mile back to 7f. The former ran a promising race in a weak looking race and is drawn in stall 12. The latter ran a pleasing race in a hot maiden at Leopardstown where all attention was on Aidan O’Brien’s John F Kennedy. Ernest Shackleton lost a lot of ground at the start, got no cover and was quite keen throughout, so he looks better than the form suggests. It looked a strong maiden on paper and the drop to 7f should help him settle better. David Wachman’s Fit For the Job demands respect, whilst Aidan O’Brien runs debutant Before Long.
20 runners head to post for the 2m 6f Blazers Handicap Chase and low weights should be favoured. It’s a very open race and For A Finish could go well for already winning duo Liz Doyle and Johnny Burke. With a low weight of 10-2 he should be staying on at the finish. Shamiran should be considered following a good second to a very well handicapped horse Sammy Black in the Mayo National. It will be interesting to see if Aranhill Chief turns out quickly after winning yesterday and if he does he looks the one to beat.
The feature 1m 4f Guinness Handicap is a strong renewal with the 104 rated El Salvador heading the weights. Promising Jockey Donnacha O’Brien rides to help with the heavy burden, but he is drawn in stall 13 which complicates things. Aidan also runs Egyptian Warrior who was just denied by Strandfield Lady (who re-opposes today) at Leopardstown recently. He has been left on the same mark and should go well for the improving 7lb claimer Ana O’Brien. The most progressive handicapper this season Panama Hat is likely to make the running for Andy Oliver and Chris Hayes rides. The three year old colt receives 11lb weight for age allowance, so has to be taken seriously. Tony Martin runs Dark Crusader who has been disappointing this season but the return to 1m 4f should help her settle and she has course form so, demands respect. Dermot Weld’s Show Court was third in this race last year and should be ready for this after a nice pipe opener at the Curragh recently. He doesn’t look the most straightforward under pressure but is a smooth traveller.
Seven runners go to post for the 1m 4f Maiden and there are three horses to focus on here. Massinga made a nice debut in a decent maiden at Roscommon, after being slowly away, she stayed on nicely for second despite meeting trouble in running. However that doesn’t look the strongest piece of form on offer. John Oxx runs Awesome Star who was an eye catcher on debut at the Curragh. After losing a lot of ground at the start, he was outpaced before staying on strongly in the closing stages. The form is decent with the 77 rated No Wunder finishing second. However Aidan O’Briens Falkirk brings the best form to the table, as the form of his second at Gowran Park looks strong with the 3rd (Fog of War), 4th (Sundara) and 5th (Abushamah) all having won maidens since. He met interference in running that day and was a shade outpaced, so todays 1m 4f should be no problem.
The Penultimate race, the extended mile 3yo handicap, is pretty open looking as nearly half the field can be given some sort of chance. Saldanha Bay could be well treated off a mark of 70 and Connor King rides. The form of her fourth at Naas has been boosted since with the front three all winning races since. Expensive Taste and Botanical Lady are closely matched having ran here on Monday but both are drawn quite wide. The same can be said about Crecora and Port Merrion but the latter is drawn well in stall 2. Dermot Weld’s Keyboard Melody is the dark horse of the race now stepped up in trip.
The concluding race on the card is very intriguing as the impressive 13 length Punchestown bumper winner Forgotten Rules, should be hard to beat. He holds an entry in the Irish St Leger so is very highly thought of and he showed plenty of pace when winning easily at the Punchestown Festival. Aidan O’Brien runs Festive Cheer who is the chief threat, especially if returning to his best form when third in the Irish Derby behind Trading Leather.
Sean Jackson 1/8/14
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