Saturday, 28 March 2015

Going soft in Galway

Tom Red

Galway’s Ballybrit Festival starts next Monday evening at 5.10 pm and features the QR Handicap over 2m (formerly the GPT Amateur Handicap) at 7 pm along with the Handicap run over 7f. 

Dermot Weld runs Universal Truth and Sublime Talent in the feature seeking a fourth successive victory in the qualified riders’ handicap, a race he also won as a jockey many moons ago on a horse called Spanner. Also in the race is the Tony Mullins-trained Impersonator, a Ballinrobe winner on Tuesday, Galianna from the in-form stable of Pat Flynn and his brother Willie’s Ballyhaunis.

Many of the days racing this year have a theme and Monday is ‘Open Night with the Sports Stars’. Will any of the Rossies feature? There is also a warm up race for Thursday’s Fillies Stakes with a Most Appropriately Dressed Lady Competition with a prize of a hat designed by milliner Suzie Mahony. Again on Tuesday first race is off at 5.10 pm and features the Topaz Galway Mile E.B.F. Handicap off at 7 pm

Wednesday sees the feature of the week for most race goers in the Galway Plate. Note that racing starts at the later time of 3 pm and the feature is at 5.25 pm. One that catches the eye at the entry stage is Gordon Elliott’s Nedzer’s Return who gave last week’s Midlands National a miss in Kilbeggan. Paul Nolan has Cuan Na Grai back and in good form and only holds an entry for the Plate and could go well having been beaten by Bahrain Strom in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle warm up on Sunday at Tipperary. Willie Mullins’ has Themoonandsixpence and if he gets in he will run a big race. Paul Nicholls, who won the race with Oslot, is looking for his second Plate with Five Dream, second in a novice chase at Newton Abbot on his last run. Thursday sees the other main feature of the week the Guinness Galway Hurdle and again racing starts at 1.50 pm with the feature off at 4.30 pm. 

Bahrain Storm, who won at Tipperary on Sunday, looks to be inform for a crack at retaining this race. Last season’s winner beat the 2006 winner Cuan Na Grai in fine style on Sundayand. Donald McCain is very pleased with Overturn, who won the Northumberland Plate over 2 miles, and with 11st 6lb in the Hurdle he strongly fancies his chances. Trained by Dessie McDonagh, of Monksfield fame, Guinness Hurdle fancy Cothrom Na Feinne, a winner at Roscommon last time out, is out of the race. The five-year-old runs in the colours of Jim Bolger’s wife Jackie. 

And for those of you getting ready for Galway remember Ladies Day is on Thursday Hurdle Day and there is a prize fund of over €12,500 sponsored by Anthony Ryan’s Ltd with a Lancome goodie bag for all the finalists by University Pharmacy, Galway. This year there is a prize of €1,500 voucher for the Best Hat. All ladies hoping to walk away with one of the best Ladies Day prizes in Irish Racing should be at the track early as the finalists will be chosen by 2.30 pm.

There is also a daily race card competition with the prizes being sponsored by seven of the top hotels in and around Galway. And finally the Tote will have a draw in the parade ring every day after the 5th race and to enter simply put you name and phone number on the back of all losing tote tickets to win some wonderful prizes.

The leading Jockey Awards will again be sponsored by Rooney Auctioneers of Galway and the leading Trainer Award will be sponsored by Channelle Veterinary Products of Loughrea. Next week we will look in detail at the racing for the second half of the week.

The going at Galway was described as soft, soft to heavy in places with rain forecast for Wednesday night, showers and sunny spells today Thursday, there will definitely be a cut in the ground for the first couple of days. Don’t forget to support your local bookmakers in Brian Keenan from Roscommon and Denis Deane from Frenchpark both standing in Ballybrit.

Flynn’s one-two

On Friday at Kilbeggan local trainer Paul Flynn made it a 1-2 in the Hilamar Hotel Handicap Hurdle when Bremen beat Mayday Frontoer, with Stretch the Truth two lengths back in third. 

In the Gigginstown Midlands National Golden Kite, earmarked here last week, duly obliged winning under a fine ride from Brian O’Connell. There was confidence in the winner who was backed from 12/1 to less than half the odds 11/2 on the track. Adrian Maguire’s charge had won a beginner’s chase on the track last year and showed his liking for the track once again beating Decoy Daddy and Streets of Gold one and a half lengths and seven lengths.

On Tuesday evening young claimer Eddie O’Connell partnered City Hustler, Vivaldi and Yachvili to record his first treble. The Kildare based jockey rode City Hustler for Sean Thornton who trains in Skerries and the other pair are trained by James Lambe. City Hustler will go to Galway on the Friday for a handicap hurdle.

The opening maiden hurdle was won by the Ted Walsh trained Hail Caesar, a former inmate of Ballydoyle, and will now head for a novice race for four-year-olds at Galway on Monday.

Finally, I can’t go without mentioning the match and congratulations go to Fergal O’Donnell and all the team on their magnificent win in Castlebar on Sunday. It brought tears to many an eye including yours truly.

Competition time

The last four qualifiers in our great Galway Plate Competition sponsored by Tote Ireland are Melissa Hoare, Roscommon, Catriona McGrath, Claregalway, Breda O’Connor, Spiddal and Maura McGrath, Mountbellew and they all knew that Tote Ireland sponsored The Minstrel Stakes. The 22 lucky readers will receive a €10 Tote Voucher and a ticket to Galway Races on Plate Day. This week’s winners will be joined by Bríd Miller, Donal Kelly, Shane O’Brien, John Earley, James Casserly, Bernie Keegan, John Ahern, Paul Finnegan, John Hanily, Joe Rooney, Brenda Clogher, Siobhan Timon, Richard McGrath, David Diffley, Gerry Delaney, William Finneran, Annie Boyle and Paul Connolly in Galway on Wednesday when all 22 winners are to meet at the Secretary’s Office on Wednesday at 2 pm where each will draw a horses in the Tote Galway Plate. You will all get your tickets in the post shortly.

This week we have a competition for three pairs of tickets for Roscommon Races on Tuesday 3rd August and to win we want to know who won last Sunday’s Connacht Football Final in Castlebar? Answers on a postcard to Roscommon People, Abbey Street, Roscommon by Friday 29th or by email to by Monday 2nd August and don’t forget to include a contact phone number and the winners can pick up their tickets at the office on the 3rd August.

We also have a competition for three pairs of tickets for Kilbeggan on Saturday 7th of August and to win we want to know which horse won this year’s Gigginstown Midland National for former jockey Adrian Maguire at Kilbeggan? Answers on a postcard to Roscommon People, Abbey Street, Roscommon or by email to by Thursday 5th August and don’t forget to include a contact phone number and the winners can pick up their tickets at the office on Friday 6th August.