We have the list of possible runner for the feature race on Ladies day at the Galway races.
The Willie Mullins-trained Clondaw Warrior, the 2016 winner, tops the weights and the 40 entries for the €300,000 Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle, the richest hurdle race in Irish racing.
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There were 20 years between Mullins’ victory in the race last year and his only other success – with Mystical City in 1996 – and on 11st 10lbs Clondaw Warrior is one of seven Mullins entries in the race, the feature event on Thursday, August 3rd, day four of the upcoming Galway summer festival.
That septet includes Max Dynamite (10st 10lbs) who hasn’t run over hurdles since finishing second in the Guinness Galway Hurdle to Quick Jack in 2015. Since then he captured the Lonsdale Cup at York on the Flat and came within half a length of winning the Emirates Melbourne Cup when second to Prince Of Penzance in 2015.
Grade 1 hurdle winner Airlie Beach is also on an early mark of 10st 10lbs, Grade 2 hurdle winners Renneti (11st 8lbs), Ivan Grozny (11st 5lbs) and Pique Sous (10st 3lbs), as well as Riven Light (10st 8lbs), complete a powerful team for last year’s leading trainer at the Galway festival.
Another former winner Thomas Edison (10st 13lbs), the 2014 winner and a faller at the last when challenging in 2015, is among the seven entries in the race for trainer Tony Martin. Martin won that renewal too in 2015 with Quick Jack for owner John Breslin, and they have Tudor City (9st 12lbs) entered. Martin has also entered the Newtown Anner Stud-owned trio Pyromaniac (10st 6lbs), Golden Spear (9st 10lbs), both course winners, and Prince Charmin’ on 9st 5lbs, as well as two horses previously placed at the track: The Plan Man (9st 13lbs) and Moonmeister (9st 6lbs).
Swamp Fox, the winner of the Monday night feature last year, the Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap, steps up in class for trainer Joe Murphy after a typically game winning performance at Killarney last week. He has been handed 11st 3lbs.
Killarney is a well-worn stop off on the way to Ballybrit, as is the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary, a popular stepping stone for Guinness Galway Hurdle hopefuls, and this year’s winner, Plinth, on 10st 11lbs, is one of three entries in the race for Joseph O’Brien.
Twenty years ago, in 1997, his father Aidan won the race with Toast The Spreece, ridden by Tony McCoy, and the younger O’Brien also has Tigris River – fifth in the race last year – and All The Answers which are set to carry 10st 9lbs and 10st 1lb respectively.
Dermot Weld and Noel Meade, two trainers with three victories each in the Guinness Galway Hurdle, have sole entries. Three Kingdoms (10st 4lbs), a course winner on the Flat for Weld, is entered on the back of an impressive victory at The Curragh recently, while Joey Sasa (10st 7lbs), a talented novice last season, is entered by Meade.
The former Weld-trained Galway winner Timiyan (10st 4lbs) is one of three entries for Gordon Elliott, who also has Automated (10st 7lbs) and The Game Changer (10st 9lbs) in the mix.
The last British-trained horse to win the race was Overturn in 2010, but this year’s six-strong entry from Britain is interesting. The group includes John Constable, the 11-length winner of the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock which has been put in on joint top-weight of 11st 10lbs after his win in the Listed Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen and the John Quinn-trained Project Bluebook, a winner of a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival for JP McManus on 10st 5lbs.
John Constable’s trainer Evan Williams has also entered Court Minstrel (11st); Paul Nicholls has Zubayr (10st 10lbs) in the race while Ian Jardine has given Shrewd (10st 1lb) an entry and Séamus Mullins has Fergall (10st 10lbs).
Project Bluebook, Timiyan, Plinth, All The Answers, Tigris River and Thomas Edison all represent top owner JP McManus, who traditionally sends a strong team to this race, and he has nine entered this time around including the interesting Western Boy (10st 6lbs), After Rain (9st 13lbs) and last year’s third, Princely Conn (10st 7lbs), one of two entries for trainer Tom Mullins.