Danny Mullins put up another couple of winners on day four of the Galway Festival, and is back with his thoughts on Friday's eight races in Ballybrit.
16:00 - James's Gate Maiden Hurdle - 2m 1/2f
Purple Mountain is the one that is probably going to be favourite. She was meant to come to Galway last year but didn’t make it. The fact that she has been off since the Dublin Festival is a slight drawback. Add in that she hasn’t had a run over hurdles, I think this is a favourite that you’d more than likely to take on here.
One that I think could possibly beat her is Aboutagout for Fran Costello. He was well beaten in Ballinrobe the last day, but I think he could be open to a little bit of improvement. Fran's horses would always improve for a run and at a bit of a price he's one I think it’s worth taking on Purple Mountain with.
Skipping Court had a good run first time out but disappointed the next day. It’s also worth giving a little mention to Gamin Original who would always work quite well at home, but his runs so far have been disappointing.
16:30 - Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle-2m 1/2f
The one I like here is the top horse, Hallowed Star, for the Mee family. This fella was a good winner in Roscommon the last day. I don’t think that was the strongest race ever but I spoke to Shark [Hanlon] after and he has been targeting Galway since before then. He thought the horse would improve for that run. This horse has some good runs in maiden hurdles early in his career and if he can get back to that kind of form he’d take all the beating even carrying top weight.
A few of the ones down the weights worth mentioning include Union Park for Philip Rothwell and Hugh Morgan. He’d have a decent chance carrying much less weight here. He won quite nicely the last day in Ballinrobe and was third behind Call Me Dolly at Punchestown before that. While he’s creeping up the handicap a little bit, I think he could be one to give Hallowed Star plenty to think about.
17:00 - Guinness Galway Tribes Handicap Hurdle - 2m 1/2f
Ruaille Buaille represents Willie Mullins and Paul Townend here who are obviously in good order having won the Plate on Wednesday. This mare was very impressive in Killarney. It was an egg and spoon race but she did all she had to do. She had previously won in Kilbeggan and had a good third in a handicap similar to this at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. She’s a mare who is off a mark of 135, which I think is still fairly workable and I think she’s the most likely winner of the race.
Flying Scotsman for Joseph O’Brien and Simon Torrens was a good winner at Navan the last day. He definitely upped his form and is probably unexposed four-year-old and getting in here off a featherweight might be one to give Ruaille Buaille something to think about.
Excelsius was very good in Killarney the last day. That was a big jump up in his performance and I know Tom Mullins holds this guy in high regards. Carrying 10-1 and with Flying Scotsman 9-9 they’re getting a lot of weight which can be helpful climbing that hill at the finish.
17:30 - Guinness Handicap Hurdle (Grade B) - 2m7f
I think Decor Irlandais for Noel Kelly has got a great chance this. He had a little prep run in Leopardstown on the flat. He was only beaten 6 lengths over 1m7f that day which will be a nice pipe opener for him. If you go back to some of his spring form, he was only beaten 9 lengths in a Grade 1 in Aintree, and although he’s got to carry lots of weight here, he’s a high class horse who has won a Grade 2 in the past. I think he can win the race but his price might be decent enough to have an each-way bet on him.
Willie Mullins saddles plenty here, all are decent types but it’s possible the handicapper has a hold on them already. An interesting one coming over from England is Pagero for Jonjo O’Neill. He’s been running well throughout the summer and the fact that Jonjo is travelling over with this one, when we haven’t seen many come across this week, I think there’s something in that. He could be one to keep an eye on if there is some market support.
18:05 - Guinness Beginners Chase - 2m2f
Nothing stands out in this as much as they did in Thursday’s beginners’ chase. Gloire D’athon for Henry De Bromhead, was an impressive winner the last day at Cork, for all that it wasn’t the strongest of races, but he got his act together and won nicely.
He’s probably going to be on the shortlist for plenty, but I think Birchdale for Enda Bolger and Mark Walsh could be the one to side with. A former Nicky Henderson horse, he has loads of experience over fences, but Enda Bolger’s training set-up is unique to anybody's. He’s often able to bring out that spark in horses again. We saw Modus really up his game and run a fine race in the Plate earlier in the week, and I think with all his experience it could be a similar story with Birchdale here.
18:40 - Arthur Guinness Chase - 2m6 1/2f
This is a conditions race where plenty of them ran in the Plate earlier in the week. Annamix pulled up in that race, and could run here with Paul Townend choosing him over Koshari. Were he to come out, you’d expect Paul to switch to his stablemate. Even if he doesn’t, based on the race he ran in the Plate, I think Koshari is the most likely winner here. Darasso is one who is very closely matched with Koshari on that run in the Plate, and while he is a slightly higher rated horse I think the way that Koshari got his jumping together, there could be more to come and he’s the one to be with.
19:10 - Guinness Galway Blazers Handicap Chase - 2m 6 1/2f
Dunvegan carries near enough top-weight for Pat Fahy and Bryan Cooper. He’s shown a fair level of form through the spring, including having a pipe-opener in the same race as Decor Irlandais on the flat at Leopardstown which should leave him spot-on for this. Pat is originally from Galway and always likes to have a winner at the track. This guy ran really well in Punchestown, finishing third in a handicap chase, and put up a good performance in the Topham at Aintree. He’s been achieving a fair level of form, but the only downside is that carrying 11-9 will be difficult over this trip at Galway.
The one who I think could possibly beat him is Sapphire Lady for Willie Mullins. She’s getting a nice bit of weight from Dunvegan. I was lucky enough to win on her in Punchestown earlier in the year. Her jumping was very good that day, the trip shouldn’t pose any issues and I think she’s a mare on the up who could definitely win this. Her only disappointment was at Cork last year, before she missed a chunk of time after that. Her previous win over fences she beat Gin On Lime who has since notched a sequence of wins and was second at Galway yesterday. I think she’s the most likely winner of this, but don’t discount Dunvegan even with that weight.
19:45 - Hop House 13 (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race - 2m 1/2f
There are plenty of winners in this race with a lot of summer form on offer. Ashroe Diamond is the pick of Patrick Mullins of the two Willie runs in the race. She was very impressive in Wexford, running away easily that day. The second followed up with victory to confirm the strength of that form. I think she’s the most likely winner of this.
There are a few others in here that were impressive in their bumper wins. Willie’s other one Dani Barcelona was very impressive in Clonmel. Jody Townend takes the ride and as we saw on Wednesday, she’s well equipped to guide a second string of Willie’s to victory.
Another one I like is Imperial Ruler who was a good winner at Tipperary. While they were both decent first time out, I think Ashroe Diamond could be a little bit special.