Galway Hurdle – Thursday 4.45pm, RTE 1
Once again Willie Mullins has a strong hand aiming for the Galway Hurdle and despite having to carry top weight in a competitive handicap, I’ve chosen Diakali. It’s not a massive burden to carry especially as the low weight in the race is only a stone and half less. It’s quite compressed which makes his weight more workable.
He’s still well handicapped. People might think I’m mad saying that about the horse at the top of the weights but he’s the only horse in the field who has the potential to go on and become Champion Hurdle class. He’s six years old, he’s running of a rating of 153, in 12 months time he could be off 163 and that puts him there or thereabouts for a Champion Hurdle.
Wicklow Brave obviously won the County Hurdle and he carries a good penalty for that. He didn’t get home at Royal Ascot over the long trip, but he’s got a good chance in this. Based on his run in the Northumberland Plate, Max Dynamite looks really well handicapped but he’s back over hurdles this time and his form hasn’t been as good over timber, so I’d have my doubts. He’s got a featherweight 10 stone four pounds on his back and David Mullins takes a further three pounds off. That all helps, but he needs to improve to get into this.
I’ve had a lot of good days on board Thousand Stars, but he’s an 11 year-old at this stage and two miles around Galway at this stage in his career looks a bit sharp for him. He was second to Diakali at Tipperary a couple of weeks back and he’ll be better for having that run, but I can’t see him getting ahead of my one or some of the others in the race. Aminabad only gets in because of his run in Ballinrobe last week which got him a penalty and raised him up enough to take his place in this. He’ll improve from the run in Ballinrobe, but he’ll have to if he wants to make an impression here.
Overall, it’s a stronger race than the Galway Plate. The biggest challenge comes from the Tony Martin yard. Ted Veale ran a blinder in the QR Handicap on Monday. Quick Jack ran a good race in the County Hurdle and then went on to run a cracker in the Chester Cup. Thomas Edison was an easy winner of this race last year. He hasn’t hit those heights since then in his couple of runs, but this has surely been his target from a long way out and he’ll be primed for this. I wouldn’t surprise me at all if one of Tony’s wins it.