SHAMROCK: Jump racing takes centre stage this Saturday as we head to Galway for an eight-race card.
A maiden hurdle (1:08pm) over 2m½f gets things started. Of those with prior hurdling experience, Joseph O’Brien’s Common Practice has shown ability in two runs so far and is likely the one to beat. It might be worth taking him on with Impero though. This horse was rated in the 80s when trained by Donnacha O’Brien on the flat, handles soft ground well could be one that takes to hurdling.
Another maiden hurdle follows (1:43pm) over the same trip. Gordon Elliott’s Three Card Brag looked a potentially smart recruit when getting the better of a strongly fancied Willie Mullins runner on debut at Wexford in March. That came on heavy ground, so conditions should be no issue, and this son of Jet Away could be the one to beat.
Remaining at 2m½f and in maiden company (2:18pm), look for a bit of value by opposing the Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott trained runners by siding with Gavin Cromwell’s Path D’oroux. A recruit from the point-to-point scene, he was last seen winning a competitive 23-runner bumper at the Punchestown Festival in the manner of a nice horse.
The first chase on the card arrives at 2:53pm, with a rated novice contest over 2m2f. Most eyes will be on Guily Billy as he makes his chase debut under Rachael Blackmore. This grey couldn’t make any impression when last seen over hurdles in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer, but looks built to jump a fence and could prove tough to beat if taking to the larger obstacles.
A competitive 2m6f handicap hurdle follows, with 18 runners set to take their chance. The Big Galloper is a horse to keep a close eye on for the partnership of Charles Byrnes and son Philip. This son of Mahler signed off last season with an impressive win in a Class 2 handicap at Musselburgh and after only 10 starts over timber could still be on the improve. Whether he will be ready first time up remains to be seen, but, as with anything from this source, the market will prove as good a guide as any.
In division one of the three-mile handicap hurdle (4:03pm) look to Brandy Harbour to get off the mark over hurdles. He was only just caught at the finish when going for home off the final turn at Galway over 2m3½f. Many in here struggle to win and that recent good form looks to count for plenty, so he’s a tentative selection to go one better now upped to three miles.
Division two (4:38pm) doesn’t look any easier to solve. A Dublin Job has had fewer starts than many of these and came very close to breaking his maiden over this trip at Tipperary last time out. That was his first start for trainer Ciaran Murphy, and now with the application of first-time blinkers, there’s every chance we could see a bit more from this five-year-old.
Allibaba beat Soldante over this course and distance at the beginning of the month and that’s probably the place to start when looking at the closing bumper (5:13pm). However, the one who could be a big improver is Gordon Elliott’s son of Walk In The Park, Firm Footings. He caught the eye staying on at Punchestown in April and looked then like a horse that would take a bit of time to show his best. If he’s improved over the summer, he could prove the classiest in this contest.