GET Riche quick in the opening race of Galway 2017.
LE RICHEBOURG already looks a star in the making after two smooth victories at Killarney. Both were equally impressive, with a 12-length gap back to his rivals when making his hurdling debut in May. The Joseph O’Brien runner proved that was no fluke when following up at the same track, this time with an easy six-and-a-half lengths back to the second home.
He oozed class with that second victory and has the benefit of Barry Geraghty taking over in the saddle today. The bit of give in the ground won’t be a problem and he can improve again.
Twobelucky is the main danger. He impressed on debut at Roscommon and looked on the upgrade when storming home at Bellewstown 25 days ago.
Nessun Dorma is another young hurdler going places and he’s yet to taste defeat either. Coming from the Mullins and Walsh team, he’s worthy of huge respect.
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PALM some cash in a wide open handicap hurdle.
PALMABAD looked more than a little rusty when coming back from a break at Downpatrick last time out — but it was still a solid effort to finish fifth.
He’s had a little help from the handicapper, who has dropped him a handy 3lb since he was sixth in fair company at Wexford in March. He stays this trip well and is relatively lightly raced — so there should be more to come.
Successor is an interesting one for JP McManus. He starts handicapping from what looks a fair enough mark of 109 and there was promise in his sixth at Gowran last time out.
Canny Tom has an unfortunate habit of running well without getting his head in front. Yet with four seconds and a third from his past five runs, he’s the each-way backer’s dream.
Several of these are switching back to the smaller obstacles after running well over fences. That would include Solar Heat, who went close at Downpatrick last time out.
She’s got winning hurdles form over this distance and could outrun her odds.
IMPACTFUL looked a winner in waiting when third on debut at Leopardstown last time out. He was bang in contention until just running out of petrol a little inside the final furlong.
The step up from 6f looks wise on his pedigree and he’s already shown his liking for a little bit of juice in the ground. He wouldn’t have to improve much to get off the mark.
Medal Of Honour has been knocking on the door and was a solid — if distant — second at The Curragh 16 days ago.
That effort was on the back of a close-up second at Gowran and third at Leopardstown. He is already proven over the trip and should be in the shake-up.
The rest have a lot of improving to do. Spiorad Saoirse is probably the pick of them judged on his debut fifth at Cork.
That was back in May but there was some spark there as he finished five lengths off the pace. He’s been gelded since and can grab third.
TAKING A BREAK
Charlie Appleby’s Hawkbill having a rest before collecting some air miles later this season
DELEGATING looks worth the weight in a competitive contest.
Taking her rider’s claim into account, she’s effectively off a mark of just 62 — that’s 7lb less then when she was edged out in a hot Leopardstown handicap last season.
She’s been brought along quietly this season, with just a couple of runs under her belt. This is the first time she’s tackled 7f with a bit of juice since that Leopardstown run in October where she was involved in a bunch finish. She’s had a spot of luck with the draw too, getting the handy stall five.
With so little weight on her back, she should be right in the mix.
There are loads of unexposed three-year-olds in this. Dermot Weld is having a shocking season by his standards but it is Galway so his Rich History could easily step up on his modest form to date.
Vocal Response won well at Cork two runs ago and could bounce back from a modest effort at Leopardstown latest, while Nothing To Lose is in great form after winning well at Ffos Las six days ago.
The Mcgregornator was rushed out too quickly at The Curragh last time after winning gamely at Naas. He’s had a break since then and will be ideally suited by these conditions.
7.40 – Big race preview
AUTO can motor home in tonight’s big race.
AUTOMATED looks tailor made for the hustle and bustle of the Connacht Handicap at 7.40.
He loves nothing better to sit just off a rattling pace and deliver his challenge as his rivals are crying enough. That’s precisely what he did when running away with an 18-runner contest at Leopardstown last time out.
He could have won by a lot more than the official margin of just shy of three lengths so the handicapper hasn’t gone crazy by upping him 8lb.
In fact he needed that sort of rise to get into the race and canny trainer Gordon Elliott has had him wrapped in cotton wool for the past 53 days.
This could be the start of an amazing week for the six-year-old because he’s entered in Friday’s Galway Hurdle. What a double that would be!
There are plenty of dangers, with Willie Mullins holding a strong hand. It’s not easy to pick between his Lagostovegas and Digeanta.
Both have top-class amateurs in Patrick Mullins and Katie Walsh on board and both are in fine form heading to Galway.
Dermot Weld’s Ezanak is interesting taking a hike in distance, while Powersbomb is from the top drawer over jumps and impressed when scoring at Roscommon last time out.
DRIVE a hard bargain in the Eventus Handicap.
HYPERDRIVE looks ready for this step up in distance after an impressive win over 1m2f at Leopardstown last time out. He went for home a long way out and showed no signs of tiring in the closing stages.
That was in softish ground but he showed his liking for any conditions when powering home at Limerick on a sounder surface.
He’s been upped 11lb for that latest victory, which means he needs to improve. But at this early stage of his career you would bet on him pulling out more for Jessica Harrington.
Eagle Spirit took a step forward when scoring in a big field at Naas last time. He had to overcome some traffic problems yet still managed to get the job done.
This longer distance is no issue as he stayed in well when second in muddy conditions at The Curragh last month.
Slaney Street found 1m5f a bit too far at Ballinrobe last time as his challenge petered out late on.
He was well backed for that after winning well at Roscommon and he’s only 3lb higher in the weights today. That gives him solid claims.
At a bigger price, Thunder Crash has put in some gutsy performances this season, especially when winning at Fairyhouse last month.
He’s still on a fair mark and can give each-way punters a good run.
Galway Festival tips
- 5.20 Le Richebourg (treble)
- 5.55 Palmabad
- 6.25 Impactful (nb)
- 7.05 Delegating
- 7.40 AUTOMATED (NAP)
- 8.10 Hyperdrive
- 8.40 Analytical Mindset
ANALYTICAL MINDSET came from another county to snatch third on his debut at Cork last time out and can learn from that experience.
Hopefully top pilot Derek O’Connor will have him a bit closer to the pace today as he was asked to make up a lot of ground in Mallow.
That was a promising effort and there should be more to come.
Willie Mullins has strong claims with his newcomer Poet Power. She is from a top jumping family and the champion trainer unleashed superstar Wicklow Brave to win this race in 2013.
It would take a lot to emulate her illustrious stablemate but she must have every chance.
Chess Grand Master looked a surefire future winner when coming home second at Killarney last time out.
He’s another who finished strongly after meeting a few traffic problems. He should come on for that debut run.
As you would expect, there are several newcomers from top stables. Keep an eye on the market for clues about Boris Grishenko for Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd, while Dermot Weld runs Distribution who is related to plenty of winners.