In the Galway Plate, last years winner Hewick is set to carry top-weight as connections look to repeat his heroics of last year. Since his memorable win 12 months ago, Shark Hanlon’s stable star has won an American Grand National and a Grade 2 Oaksey Chase, while it’s possible he could have been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup only for exiting at the second last fence.
Gordon Elliott has entered 11 horses in the Galway Plate, with Fury Road the top-rated horse from the Cullentra team. Also among Elliott’s team are The Goffer, Hollow Games and Fils D’oudairies. Hollow Games has a lightly raced profile over fences, and his four runs over fences have been over two miles. The step up to 2m6f should bring about further improvement, and with Hewick looking likely to line up, it means Hollow Games will race off a very light racing weight.
The Willie Mullins stable have entered five horses headed by the 2021 runner-up Easy Game, while Kilcruit would be an interesting contender given his lightly raced profile over fences. He was out-classed in Grade 1 novices chase, but destroyed a competitive field in a novice handicap at Punchestown. He did receive a 12lb rise from the handicapper for that win but he’s a classy sort who should be a leading contender.
The Galway Hurdle has attracted 41 entries, with nine of those hailing from the Willie Mulllins yard. The 2018 winner Sharjah looks set to carry top-weight, but it’s Emmet Mullins that could hold the key to the race with Filey Bay and Merlin Giant. Filey Bay was a rapid improver last season, culminating with good placed efforts in valuable handicaps at Newbury and Cheltenham. A recent run on the flat at Roscommon should leave him spot on and he’ll be a big player.
Merlin Giant landed a valuable Bar One Racing-sponsored handicap hurdle last season, and although he’s 10lh higher in the ratings, he’s likely to be primed for this given his Galway connections. A recent flat maiden win showcased his well-being, and he’s likely to make his presence felt next week.