Galway Races Preview

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The world famous Galway Races take place this week in Ireland, a week-long festival of action at the famous Ballybrit track that runs from Monday to Sunday.

The Galway Shopping Centre Handicap at 2019 Galway Festival.

This meeting has been the playground of trainer Dermot Weld down through the years and anything that carries his name routinely has to have some chance of success.

O’Brien and Mullins to Spoil Weld’s Party

Perhaps though the Weld domination of Galway is easing now. He had just three winners from 25 runners at the track in 2019, matching his tally of the previous year.

It’s a marked dropdown from the peak years, when Weld hit double figures at Galway each year from 2010-2014, and from a punting perspective it’s certainly worth bearing in mind that D K Weld probably won’t scale those numerical heights of bygone days.

To some degree, that is because the likes of Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins have routinely started to target the Galway Races more frequently than ever before. The powerhouse yards have taken note of the prizemoney at Ballybrit and they are now key players in this puzzle.

That shows on day one as Mullins has a string of contenders in the mix and none with a higher profile than SHARJAH (11/4*) in the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap at 18:45.

Second to the brilliant mare Epatante in the Champion Hurdle in March, he had a pleasing run on the level at the Curragh last month. He was behind a few of these rivals but didn’t get an ideal run and is now much better off at the weights with Patrick Mullins taking over in the saddle.

It’s another day of Flat racing on Tuesday, with the feature event the Colm Quinn BMA Mile Handicap offering a prize pool of €120,000.

Jump Action the Pick on Wednesday

Onto Wednesday and the jumpers come to the fore with the feature race The Tote Galway Plate.

A fiercely competitive handicap, it’s a unique test and can change rapidly in the closing stages as the last two fences, situated three furlongs from the finish, are the closest fences together of any racecourse in the world.

Trainer Gordon Elliott is sure to have a strong team in The Plate again and, having won with Lord Scoundrel, Clarcam and Borice, he’ll bid for a fourth win in five years with Cheltenham Festival runner-up GALVIN the ante-post favourite at 11/2.

Ladies Day Takes Centre Stage on Thursday

Thursday is the traditional Ladies Day at the Galway Races, though this year racing will be behind closed door. The Guinness Galway Hurdle is the feature event and the sparring duo of Mullins and Elliott are sure to be well represented.

Aramon (15/2) and Felix Desjy (8/1) are potentially leading contenders for Ireland’s top two trainers over the jumps.

Friday evening’s card features the Galway Blazers Handicap Steeplechase which was won last year by Minella Beau for the tag-team of Mullins and champion jockey Paul Townend.

The weekend at Galway traditionally has a more relaxed feel to it, with Saturday and Sunday’s cards taking place in the afternoon and being exclusively on the Flat.

It’s a week not to be missed and remains one of Ireland’s pre-eminent racing festivals; with Galway retaining the allure for punters in 2020 even from a social distance.

*All odds correct at time of writing

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