CeeBee previews the Galway Hurdle and he believes that Tony Martin can repeat his 2014 victory with another in John Breslin colours and has Quick Jack as his main bet.
4.45 Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle – 2miles
The highlight, for racing folk, of Ladies Day at Galway. Plenty of other highlights to be found later on Ladies Day around Shop St, The Hole in The Wall, Imperial Residents Bar and of course Supermacs!!
The ground is currently good and with only a very small bit of rain forecast for Wednesday afternoon and a fairly dry Thursday we can expect it to remain as good ground, it may get a fraction quicker - it certainly won’t be any slower. This will result in a speedy 2mile test.
Quick Jack – is the favourite and a very deserving one too. He was a major fancy of mine for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and he went on to run a good race in defeat (3rd to Wicklow Brave) after the ground went a little too soft for him that day. The 7th, 8th & 9th home that day have since ran well in defeat in other top handicap hurdles whilst the 6th home won a Grade2 Novice hurdle and the 2nd in Cheltenham has since won a hot handicap at Punchestown. It’s very strong handicap form.
Quick Jack has been lightly campaigned targeting big pots. His last 5 outings were the Boylesports Hurdle (given a lot to do and finished 3rd), Galway Amateur Handicap (winner), Newmarket Cesarewitch (beaten 3/4L), County Hurdle (3rd) and most recently the Chester Cup (beaten 3/4L). 5 big targets with big competitive fields yet he delivered a strong performance each time to finish in the places. At only 6yrs old he has many more big performances in him. He has proven Galway form, albeit on the flat, which show’s he’ll cope with the sharp turns, undulations and hill finish. Having been off for 3 months is no issue either as he has enjoyed a decent break between his races recently.
His last hurdles winning mark was off a much lower mark, but that came as a 4yo so he will need to have (and has) improved greatly since. That victory came against Vibrato Valtat, Deep Trouble and Three Kingdoms, all of whom have gone on to win off far higher marks. In the Boylepsorts hurdle he chased home Gilgamboa and Flaxen Fare (first 3 well clear). Those are another two horses that have since run to much higher marks. These runs along with the strength of the County Hurdle outing convince me Quick Jack can win a big field competitive handicap hurdle off this mark.
Wicklow Brave concedes 15lbs more to Quick Jack here than he that day in March. He’ll also like the speed test here but having been busy on the flat the preference is for the fresher Quick Jack to reverse places off the revised weights. Not the most consistent of sorts either is Wicklow Brave.
Max Dynamite – finished 4th behind Quick Jack and Wicklow Brave at Cheltenham. 1lb better off for a 1.5L defeat by QJ and 16lb better off with Wicklow Brave for an 11L defeat, at 20/1 he screams value (missed the 33s). Add in the fact David Mullins takes off a further 3lbs and he’s arguably weighted to beat both. (I may have called Luke Dempsey the best 3lb claimer around yesterday – between them it is) Since Cheltenham he fell at Fairyhouse and possibly hadn’t recovered or just found the season a little too long when flopping at Punchestown. Too bad to be true it’s easy to ignore. He returned after 2mts off to run a great race on the flat in the Northumberland Plate, 2nd of 19 of a fairly stiff flat mark of 104. That was a classy effort not many of these would manage and it was also very good to see after the disappointing finish to his hurdles campaign.
Thousand Stars is another for the Mullins camp but this gelding is at his best at 2m4f and 3miles so will struggle for speed here I suspect.
Diakali – is the second favourite at 6/1. Representing the powerful combination of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh he’ll be very popular. He was a visually impressive winner in what looked a weak Grimes hurdle at Tipperary last time. The handicapper may have taken a slight chance with him after leaving him on 153. His very best form is worth another few lbs but there’s enough for me to look elsewhere. He may need a few furlongs more to be at his very best and he may also need a bit more rain than is forecast to get his most favourable ground. If they allow Ruby a solo upfront at a slow pace I’ll be very upset. He’ll be prominent but with Hidden Cyclone, Rawnaq, Modem and Bayan all likely to be forcing it as well that shouldn’t happen.
Hidden Cyclone – is the other horse priced in single figures and is easily opposed in my opinion. His mark of 137 looks lenient considering he’s a multiple G2 winner over fences. I’m not a fan of 2mile horses returning over hurdles as they often lack the fluency to hurdle at speed compared to say the 3mile ‘Pertemps types’. Considering HC was often better at distances beyond 2miles and handled winter ground very well he could find a 2mile hurdle race on good ground happening far too fast for him.
Modem – after winning the big flat handicap on Monday is of interest but I suspect he was far better handicapped on the flat rather than over hurdles. Beaten at Leopardstown over Christmas, again in the Boylesports and then at Naas and again at Cheltenham in March. Some of them were fine efforts, especially as a novice but he’s in here off a higher mark than when defeated whereas he ran in the flat handicap off the back of a flat handicap win.
Ted Veale – was a close 3rd in Monday evening’s feature but I don’t believe he is well enough handicapped over hurdles to win a Galway Hurdle. Well beaten off the same mark in 2013. The Boylesports hurdle both he and Modem contested has not worked out as well this season as it usually does.
Thomas Edison – won this race last year but off 11lbs higher will struggle to defend his crown. He came into last year’s renewal off the back of a good flat win but this summer he’s been well beaten in two handicap hurdles. Highly tried (ironic enough term) before last year I don’t think he has another 7 or 8lbs in hand that’s required.
The Game Changer and Hisaabaat were 3rd and 4th respectively last year. TGC has looked a reformed character over fences lately but a return to hurdles, where he’s rated 9lbs higher than 12mts ago, may not see him at his best. Hisaabaat is now 7yrs old has not won over hurdles since his 4yo campaign. They have place chances again but others preferred.
The McManus charge over from the UK, Snake Eyes, doesn’t convince as the most reliable sorts to get things done in a tough finish. He also went up 8lbs for winning a very average race at Punchestown having not made any impression off a lower mark in the Boylesports back in January. His reputation rather than form is creating the low price.
Rawnaq – will attempt to make all and probably just tee it up for whoever chases him as he’s unlikely to have the gears required. He’s been well beaten in the last two renewals. A strong stayer on the flat it’s no surprise some of his best form has come over 2m4f. Connections really should have went for the Plate (they’ll show me when he wins no doubt!!)
Plinth hasn’t featured in a good hurdles race in some time and also ran fairly poorly Monday night in Galway. It’s a stretch to see him winning the Hurdle.
Pyromaniac (3rd reserve may not get a run) is another for the highly respected Tony Martin yard but he doesn’t have the profile of one who’s chucked in after targeting this big race for months. He won a conditions hurdle at Limerick and was 2nd in an average novice hurdle at Punchestown before that.
Bayan looks on a stiff mark at 150. He was 2nd last year off 141 and won the Ladbroke at Ascot off 146. That day he got a fraction outpaced and stayed on well (with a little persuasion). That effort and other good runs at 2m4f suggest this speedy 2mile test is not his optimum.
Rich Coast – is another of interest at fancy prices. Formerly a very smart flat horse (108 rated listed winner) he was very impressive when winning a G3 at Tipperary late last year. The second that day, MacNicholson, went on to finish 2nd in a big Punchestown handicap whilst the 4th & 5th have won since also. Rich Coast then got injured and was rushed back for Cheltenham so was understandably below par in March. He ran an improved race in Fairyhouse before flopping again at Punchestown. That was so bad I assume there was a genuine excuse and having been freshened up for this he could be ready to spring a surprise. The speedy 2miles on good ground will certainly suit and if reaching the potential he promised early this season he could still be unexposed.