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Heading to Galway

Morning all,

Saturday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes was the start of a busy week of great racing. The race might have only had six runners, but it was a classy six. Indeed, I had it down as one of the best renewals of the race of recent seasons.

We don’t have just one big summer racing festival to enjoy this week, but we have two. The Galway Festival gets underway today. The Galway Festival is a mix of jumps and flat racing with the Galway Plate & Galway Hurdle arguably the leading jumps races of the summer.  

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Tuesday sees the start of five days of high-class flat action at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Let’s hope it’s glorious weather or at least decent weather for ‘Glorious’ Goodwood. The big races of meeting are the three Group 1’s: Sussex Stakes, Nassau Stakes, and the Goodwood Cup. The meeting also contains plenty of handicaps. The best of which are Golden Mile Handicap and the Stewards Cup.

The weather also seems set to play ball. Very little rain is forecast for Goodwood this week and the forecast is for it to become warmer and sunnier for the Friday & Saturday.

Inside today’s main piece. I look back at Saturday’s big race at Ascot. Plus, I preview this evening’s big amateur riders handicap at Galway.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes Review

The first big middle-distance clash between the classic generation and their old rivals produced a surprise winner in Pyledriver.

Favourite Westover was far too keen, and he and Broome helped set an exceptionally strong pace. Ryan Moore on Broome never allowed Westover to settle out in front and that did for both horses chances. Westover finishing well beaten and Broome a distant fourth.

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Pyledriver was well suited to the strong gallop and jockey P J McDonald got him well positioned chasing the two front runners. Once the pace collapsed 2f out, he was best placed to take advantage. Mind you he’s not a horse who like to be out in front too long as he hung both ways inside the final furlong. Despite that he had enough in hand to hold off German challenger Torquator Tasso.

Mishriff once again missed the start and although it looked like he might be coming with a promising run in the straight, but he weakened over 1f out and doesn’t really stay 1m 4f.

Torquator Tasso ran a cracker in second and is on course to retain his Arc crown. He handled the quick ground but he’s an even better horse when the mud is flying. The Arc is also on the agenda for the winner. However, I strongly fancy the German horse to reverse placings with Pyledriver in an Arc if the ground is soft or worse.

Besides Westover. The big disappointment of the race was Emily Upjohn who never got competitive and eventually finished last of the six. She was another who got lit up early in the race, but it was a seriously disappointing effort from the filly. A drop back to 1m 2f could be in the offing or she might be worth a try in the hood.

Galway Festival – Day 1

It’s a seven-race evening card at Galway and it’s a mixture of flat & jumps races. The feature race is the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap (6:40). It’s a race for amateur rider’s only but it does have €110,000 in guaranteed prize money.

Since 2017 Willie Mullins has dominated the festival in the way that Dermot Weld used to. Mullins has had 54 winners 251 runners 22% +27.71 113 placed 45%. That’s 35 winners in front of his nearest rival Joseph O’Brien. The Champion jumps trainer has also had the most winners in flat races at the festival with 17 winners from 62 runners 27% +39.04 33 placed 53%. Mullins will have targeted plenty of horses at this year’s meeting, and they will be worth keeping onside.

The going at Galway is being described as good to yielding on the hurdles track and yielding on the flat track.

6:40 – Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap – 2m 1f

Mullins has a strong hand

Willie Mullins saddled the winner of this race three times between 2017 & 2019. He also had the runner-up in last year’s race. It’s a race he likes to throw a few darts at and this time he saddles six of the twenty runners and has the first reserve. The three form the Mullins yard that takes the eye are race favourite and smart hurdler Echoes In Rain. Patrick Mullins rides the mare and although its amateur riders race it’s a race he hasn’t won yet. Her claims are there for all to see.

Farout isn’t the most consistent of horses, but he went close in a handicap at the Punchestown Festival and was a 2 ¼ length 5th of 9 at Leopardstown on his first start on the flat since joining the Mullins yard. A real stamina test like this could really suit the 5-year-old who is high on the shortlist.

Foveros was ¾ length runner-up in last years race off 3lb lower. He must be respected with Derek O’Connor booked and has each way claims again. In the same colours is 2017 winner Whiskey Sour who despite being a 9-year-old seems likely to run his race.

Others in the mix

Besides the Willie Mullins contingent you must like the claims of Lynwood Gold who was an unlucky 5 length 5th of 19 in last year’s race when trained by Jessica Harrington. He was slowly away that day but was finishing his race off strongly. He returned from an 8-month absence with a 1 ¼ length 6th of 12 at Killarney 13-days ago and should be spot on fitness wise.

Dutch Schultz is having his first start on the flat since comfortably winning on his handicap debut at Gowran Park (1m 4f) last October. He was hiked up 12lb for that win but looked well ahead of his mark that day. First run since February but he’s gone well fresh in the past. If he stays this marathon trip, he’s a big player.

Three Crowns won and finished runner-up on both starts at last year’s festival. The win came in a 1m 4f handicap, but he stays 2m. Poor reappearance, after a five-month absence at the Curragh last month but much better expected here

Harry Fry brings over Winterwatch and he’s been aimed at this race. The 4-year-old made it 3-7 on the flat when winning at Kempton (2m) last month. He’s 6lb higher than at Kempton but could be still ahead of the handicapper and looks set for a big run for a trainer who saddled the third home last year.

Taipan ran with credit on his first start for 11 months when 2nd of 7 Bellewstown 25-days ago. The cheekpieces are back on and the jockey rode him last time. He’s not discounted at big odds although stamina for this marathon trip must be taken on trust.

Galway Picks

Having had a decent week on the punting front. Saturday proved to be a huge disappointment so I’m not going into this week’s action at Galway & Goodwood on the high that I thought I might.  

I mentioned at the top of the piece Willie Mullins’ record in flat races at the meeting. Besides his six runners in the big handicap, he also saddles Your Eyes Only (7:50).  The filly lacks the experience of most of her rivals but does come into the race after winning a Sligo maiden (1m 2f) last time. Her mark looks tough, but she shaped last time like 1m 4f would bring out further improvement in her. Sadly, the bookies are taking no chances and the early 6/1 has long gone.

7:15 – Wide draws have put me off the inform Band Width and Dairerin in this 7f handicap

Girl Crush broke smartly to make all to win a Roscommon maiden month. Stall 6 is fine, and she showed last time that she’s very effective on soft ground. Looks on a workable mark for her handicap debut. Queen’s Pardon a maiden after seven starts has a couple of bits of form that make her of plenty of interest here. The filly finished a ½ length 3rd of 12 at Leopardstown (7f) three starts back and finished a 2 ¾ length 6th of 16 at Tipperary (7 ½f) last time. She’s got a nice draw in stall 4 and shouldn’t be far away.  However, she’s been vey week in the early betting for the race but the 16/1 available makes each way appeal.

Monday Selection: Queen’s Pardon – 16/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes (both paying 4 places).

Good luck with your Monday bets.

John

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