Usually at this point, I would be looking ahead to the weekend. But there is the behemoth that is the Galway Festival/Glorious Goodwood week looming on the horizon that has diverted my attention somewhat. Year in, year out the Galway Festival produces some brilliant racing, many competitive handicaps and lots of useful betting angles.
So, with the threat of midweek showers in the UK, and the fact that many horses that I would potentially be backing this weekend hold multiple entries, I find it easy to press on into next week and take a look at the two big betting heats at Galway – the Plate and the Hurdle.
The feature on the Wednesday is the valuable Galway Plate, and a race that Gordon Elliott is starting to show a distinct liking for, having won it in three out of the last four years. I strongly feel he can make that record four out of five with Galvin – who is a standout 8/1 with Bet365.
A slow burner over fences last season, he not surprisingly put up a career best performance when chasing home the impressive Imperial Aura in the Novices’ Handicap Chase on day one of the Cheltenham Festival. Galvin was the only horse to get within hailing distance of Imperial Aura, and that feat is all the more notable as he was knocked sideways by an errant rival at the very first fence. Gathered up and given time to regain his momentum by Davy Russell, he was very strong at the line and as a lightly-raced six-year-old, there is every possibility that he will have been cherry-picked for the Plate from the moment he crossed the line that day.
This idea was confirmed when he reappeared two weeks ago to win a conditions chase at Killarney, confirming his health and ability nicely. Elliott is always very keen to go into a big target off the back of a prep run, and Galvin did everything expected of him that day, and surely goes off much shorter for the Plate come next Wednesday. He will still have a fair bit in hand of his handicap mark, and don’t be surprised if he is mixing it in graded company by the autumn.
For all that it will be a big field, there aren’t many that have the unexposed, high-quality and progressive profile that Galvin possesses. The likes of Snugsborough Benny and Peregrine Run will surely run their races as they did in third and fourth last year, but surely will find one or two too good.
The Galway Hurdle is the centrepiece of the Thursday, and again I am siding with a trainer who has displayed a knack of winning this race. That said, Willie Mullins has developed a knack of winning most races, so perhaps that is not too distinctive a claim!
In 2018 he won the Galway Hurdle with a topweight who went on to be a multiple Grade 1 winner in the shape of Sharjah, and I think he can repeat the feat this year with Aramon, who is 10/1 with Bet365. In addition to backing him each-way, it could be worth sticking both Galvin and Aramon in an each-way double.
Already a Grade 1 winner, and placed in a couple more, Aramon has taken his form to a new level it seems in his last two starts. Second in the County Hurdle in March to Saint Roi, who could potentially be a Champion Hurdle horse in time, he flew late to grab that spot. Take the winner out and he would have been a cosy winner of the race.
He then reappeared in the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary last month, and produced a performance full of verve and style. Apparently, connections felt he would come on markedly for the run too, so with the sight of him sprinting clear of his rivals after the last etched in my memory, the slight rise in the handicap is quickly swept to the back of my mind.
Again, the usual candidates who pitch up in all the big handicaps will be in attendance, and the challengers are likely to be headed by last year’s winner Tudor City, Petit Mouchoir and Buildmeupbuttercup. But again, they lack the profile of Aramon, who might find the main danger coming from Wonder Laish, Aramax or Felix Desjy.