Robbie McNamara is no stranger to riding winners at Ballybrit and with Ireland’s most popular mixed racing festival getting underway this evening, we spoke to a man who has successfully hooked up with the King of Ballybrit, Dermot Weld on numerous occasions for his thoughts on a cracking opening card.
Robbie’s Galway Races tips – day one:
The quick version
5.45 Defining Year
6.15 True Solitaire
8.20 Might Concorde
It’s his to lose. He has the form in the book on the flat. His jumping let him down a bit in a few maiden hurdles last season, but he was very classy on the flat and he’ll be hard to beat if he has improved his jumping. Bachasson was impressive making his debut for Willie Mullins at Sligo, but I’d question the quality of opposition that day. He was handy on the flat too, but he has a bit to find here. As long as Zafayan’s jumping holds up, he’ll make it a winning start to the week for Dermot Weld.
Robbie’s bet: Defining Year
5.45 Galway – Easyfix Rubber Products Handicap Hurdle – 2m
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The plan had been to run him over hurdles last year, but he hasn’t been seen over hurdles in a while. He’s highly rated on the flat, but the soft ground is a worry. Two miles, on soft ground, up the hill at Ballybrit – it’s a test of stamina that he hasn’t really had on the flat. If the ground was right for him, I’d say he’s very well handicapped and he’s the one to beat. The soft ground is a worry. He’s so well in on the handicap rating, I’m going to keep the faith and back him to deliver.
This race has been a carve up between Dermot Weld and Aidan O’Brien in recent years and I expect that to continue. True Solitaire had a decent run at Gowran Park last month. He came second, Pat Smullen gave him an easy ride – it was a promising start. Again, you’d question the level of opposition but Dermot has plenty of good two year olds at home and this one must be showing him something at home if he’s the pick of the bunch.
Robbie’s bets: Modem & Whiteout
6.50 Galway – Connacht Hotel QR Handicap – 2m
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This race is wide open, but the one that has caught my eye is Modem for Jessica Harrington. He’s been very progressive over hurdles this year. He was second in a competitive renewal of the Boylesports Hurdle at Leopardstown in January and he’s in this off a nice light weight. I’d also have a look at Whiteout. Since arriving in Willie Mullins’ yard, he’s edged up to a rating in the mid-130s over hurdles. He’s on the flat here so he reverts to his French rating which potentially puts him very well in here.
It’s difficult to go against a Weld horse at Galway, but I’ll give Tadaany the swerve. He’s got a big chance, but the one that stands out to me is Cenotaph for Aidan O’Brien. After a fairly indifferent showing at Navan, he ran a big race at the Curragh last month and I’d be uncertain as to the level of opponent he’ll have to beat in this. If he does something similar to what he did in the Curragh, he’ll have enough to win this.
Another Weld v O’Brien showdown and I’m going for team Ballydoyle again. Harasava should handle the ground, but Loved is very well bred and was expected to be competing for bigger prizes than a handicap around Galway. She was a little bit slow to get going at Limerick last time, but that’s no bad thing over a mile and a half on soft ground at Galway. By the end, she’d taken firm control and was probably a better winner than half a length suggests. She’s the one to side with.
I rode Mighty Concorde on his last run. I fancied him to win, he traveled beautifully throughout the race but he didn’t find much when we hit the straight. It was the end of a tough debut season for him so I’d forgive that. He’s not the most straightforward, but he’s an awful lot of ability. He should have won first time out at Punchestown and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went and collected here. Another Cyclone is his biggest danger here. Shark Hanlon is very sweet on him and he made a promising debut at Fairyhouse back in April.