The curtain comes down on another fantastic week of racing at Ballybrit where we had some excellent performances. Princess Zoe was a standout for me and both feature race winners, Early Doors in the Galway Plate and Aramon in the Galway Hurdle look worth keeping on the right side of.
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2.45 KENNY GALWAY HANDICAP
DRAGON OF MALTA looks very nicely handicapped based on its last run and also the fact that it was second here at Galway last season.
He is two pound lower than the mark he raced off when second over 7f at the course and his recent pipe opener could leave him spot on. His best form is on softer ground so the conditions should be perfect. He ran a cracker at the Curragh last season over a mile when he just got tired close home.
He will be hard to keep out of the frame here and looks a solid each way selection in a tricky opening contest.
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3.15 LORD HEMPHILL MEMORIAL IRISH EBF AUCTION MAIDEN
Ger Lyons’ runner here THE LAST KNIGHT is a very interesting runner based on his debut where he finished a very encouraging fourth at the Curragh last weekend behind stablemate Coill Avon.
Gary Carroll was on board last time and takes the mount here. The horse was seen to best effect in the final two furlongs when the penny dropped. He stayed on strongly to take fourth and looked like a horse that would have no problem picking up a maiden.
While he was well beaten in the end he stuck to his task well and should run well here if he handles the track.
3.50 ARDILAUN HOTEL HANDICAP
THE MPEX KID was one of my selections earlier in the week and he found plenty of trouble under Mikey Sheehy but still ran well to finish fourth.
He has a nice draw here on stall five and I think he might be ridden a little more prominent to try and keep him out of trouble. He had won very well at Fairyhouse the time before stretching away close home and I think there is still improvement to come off his mark.
If he can break well and get to the front I think he will take plenty of catching.
4.20 IRISH STALLION FARMS EBF “AHOONORA” HANDICAP
The “Scurry” handicap at the Curragh was a very competitive race but FLAMING MOON really caught the eye staying on strongly in the closing stages suggesting that a step up to seven furlongs might be within his grasp.
He broke his maiden over six furlongs at Navan in October suggesting that he handles a stiff finish and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see a very good run here. His run at the Curragh looks very strong in terms of the form for this race as the likes of Blairmayne, Master Matt and Gulliver finished ahead of him. Gulliver ran well in the Stewards Cup on Saturday and is rated 111.
Flaming Moon gets in here off 87 and I think he is a solid each way horse in a competitive handicap.
4.50 IRISH STALLION FARMS EBF FILLIES MAIDEN
Willie Mullins has a very interesting filly entered here with Kevin Manning booked and I think she will take all the beating.
LA JOYA was well backed on her debut but looked like she would come on a bundle from the experience and if she can handle the track I would expect her to go very close. It looked a very strong maiden last time and there was a bit of money around for her.
She will improve off the back of that run and should go very close. She will be easy to spot as she is a grey filly.
I wouldn’t give up on her if she isn’t successful tomorrow, she will land a maiden sooner rather than later.
5.20 JPK FENCING RACE
This race is an absolute belter with Gordon Elliott having entered BIGBADANDBEATIFUL. She is a high class bumper performer who has plenty of stamina and with Declan Mc Donagh on board she will lack nothing from the saddle.
She has a soft ground bumper victory to her name at Navan under Jamie Codd and I think Galway will really suit her. Her main market rival is likely to be Buildmeupbuttercup trained by Willie Mullins. She had a hard enough race in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday and after travelling well into the race she just didn’t see the trip out.
If this race becomes tactical and stamina comes into the equation then Bigbadandbeatiful will be staying on the best and should win going away. I think she is very very good and will be very hard to beat. She will be my final day NAP.
5.50 FR BREEN MEMORIAL HANDICAP
We finish Galway for this year with a competitive handicap and it could be a grey day as ALABASTER is my selection here following a very solid run over hurdles earlier in the week.
He finished second behind his stablemate Bua Boy who was well backed but they were well clear of the third. It was nice to see this horse showing some of his old form and he might just be well handicapped now back on the level.
This horse was formerly trained by Sir Mark Prescott and was running off marks in the 80s on turf and the all weather.
He is rated 70 here and I will be keeping a close eye on the market.
It will likely be a very good indicator to expectations but he looks solid each way value and will hopefully finish the week on a high for us.