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Weighting For Galway

With the weights now out for the Tote Galway Plate we are starting to get a much better picture of what the starting line-up will be.

Unsurprisingly, Samcro is there as top-weight. Surprisingly, Tiger Roll has landed in out of the blue. I thought he would be out of training at the moment and having a break. I can’t see the horse having any chance in the race. To be honest none of the top half a dozen or so excite me looking over them. I think they are more or less at their mark.

The two I have picked out are two of JP McManus and both are in training with Joesph O’Brien. Top Moon won nicely at Wexford earlier this month and I like the weight of 10-9 that he’s been given. He had a run in the Irish Grand National this year also, although he pulled up, it is a big handicap race which should give him good experience going into the Plate. With the recent win, it looks like he is hitting form at the right time and he’s open to a lot of improvement.

Darasso is my each-way bet. He won well in Listowel last month and finished 2nd in Tipperary this month. His weight of 11-2 is high enough but its not too high to put me off. He looks to be coming back to his best with some winning form and coming 2nd over hurdles. He’ll be sharp after that.

The Shunter is another horse from the same connections who I would have been considering had it not been for a bad round of jumping at Aintree. If he’d jumped well there, I’d have seen him as a real live prospect for Galway. I can’t see passed the jumping though. If he jumped like that at Galway he’d have no chance.

Of the potential runners I mentioned in my last blog, it is a pity to see that Captain Tomcat is now not making the journey across the Irish sea. Walk Away for Henry de Bromhead is number 40 in the weights, so, a lot of horses will need to come out for him to make the start. I still think he has a great chance if he gets in though.

Top Names Missing

There will be a lot of top names not riding in this year’s race with Davy Russell, Robbie Power, Rachael Blackmore and Danny Mullins all out. It could make for a very good opportunity for a slightly lesser-known rider to pick up a major career win in a stand-out race.

Getting A Good Start

I never really had a good ride in the race. I had a few horses I thought might be placed in it but weren’t. The best I did was 3rd on Washington Lad in 2009.

It is such a competitive handicap, there isn’t an inch of room. It is probably one of the hardest starts in Irish racing. Everybody wants to be in the first six or seven to get over that first fence, and the width of the pack is bigger than the width of the fence! It makes for a bottleneck. If you jump off 10th, you will find yourself 15th or 20th very quickly and you don’t want to be out the back in the race. If you jump it well and land 4th or 5th, you have loads of options.

You probably get a little bit more aggressive than at other races. Nobody will give you an inch in the race, people are holding on to their positions. You try to push your way in, and hope your horse is brave enough to do it, and not every horse is brave enough. If you are hustling your way up, horses will be bumping off you, jockeys will be shouting at each other, the result being, you panic a bit and your horse panics a bit. If you spend the race doing that, it’s not a particularly nice place to be.

Back in 2009, I got the good start on Washington Lad but he just wasn’t quiet able for the hill at the end. Those are probably the two key things for the spectator to look out for – the start and the hill. Once you get off to a good start and things settle down a bit, it is that finishing hill that is at the back of your mind. If you don’t jump that last fence well, the hill can feel like having to climb a brick wall. Even if you do jump it well, it can be a real challenge to get up.

Galway is so unique, there is so much you have to think about but if you get on a horse that likes the track, you don’t have to think about a whole lot. You really notice the difference sitting on a horse that likes the track at Galway and one that doesn’t. The right horse makes it an easy track to ride and that’s why course form counts.

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