Galway's 2019 Festival starts on Monday and our Irish racing tipster Alan Dudman is ready for the marathon test with a pair of selections on the opening day...
"He ran well fresh last term and the booking of Derek O'Connor is another plus for a very progressive horse."
Steps could be a lethal place bet in the Galway opener
With seven great days in store at one of the world's most unique tracks, there'll be plenty of time to chisel out one or two bets. Perhaps even some short price lays given the stiff finish and the long run-in.
The Festival begins with a 17:20 Novice Hurdle. It's no surprise that Willie Mullins and Jessica Harrington dominate the betting with their respective runners Authorized Art and Morosini. The former for the champion trainer is priced at around 2.1011/10, whilst Morosini looked a fair prospect with a neat performance at Ballinrobe in May.
Morosini won with a bit more in hand than the margin suggested on a blustery day back then. He overcame a slight mistake two out when the pace quickened, and he saw his race out well. He trades at a slightly bigger price of 3.2011/5.
However, they don't have the experience of Gordon Elliott's Lethal Steps - who was at one time a very handy horse on the Flat.
Lethal Steps runs to a figure in the 120s on a consistent basis but often finds one too good. However, the small field last time wouldn't have suited at Downpatrick, and he shaped
liked he needs a step back up in trip. There will be more of a pace to this race, which in theory could suit, and the finish could play to his strengths. You can click here to read what the trainer has to say abut Lethal Steps in his exclusive preview blog.
He is an obvious Win and Place back in the race at 10.5019/2 and 2.767/4, and I would just shade the latter in preference to the bet on Morosini.
Decent draw can serve Improving well
Trainer Joseph O'Brien is well represented in this 7f handicap for three-year-olds at 19:05, and you can click here to read what the trainer has to say about his trio.
My bet however is not one of his team, but one of Augustine Leahy's in the shape of Improving.
Quite a few in the field are more exposed, but Improving shapes as though he could have a bit more than his current rating of 70. He has caught the eye in both of his starts as a three-year-old this term, and he'd be fairly treated on his seasonal reappearance run when finishing fourth to Eagles Rock in a competitive handicap at Listowel. He met trouble in the closing stages as he ran out of room to play with.
He posted a good effort last time at Limerick over slightly shorter in a Rated Race and ran on in the closing stages. He is well drawn on the inside in 1 and races from a low
weight with Billy Lee on.
Up-and-comer for Murtagh can play a part against the power of Mullins
The race of the night is the 2m1f handicap with the top-rated horse at 98. If you are playing on the Sportsbook it's a PROMO RACE and you can also use THE EDGE up to 7 Places.
Whilst Willie Mullins has a strong hand with his quartet, I am going to side with the Johnny Murtagh-trained Baba Boom (pictured below).
He's a real strong-looking type that really upped his game as a three-year-old last term when stepped up to middle-distances. He rapidly progressed with a hat-trick of victories, all
with something different about them. He travelled nicely to score at Limerick, overcame a slow gallop at Fairyhouse, and then scored at Galway (his best display). He landed that 0-90 12 months ago over 1m4f in the style of a good horse. They went a good gallop and his stamina really came into play at the end, marking him down as potentially a runner for these 2m+ handicaps.
The extra distance could suit him well as he was described as a bit lazy, which is something I like in a stayer.
He resumes from 88 and this will be his first run of the season and has been gelded. That's a slight negative against race-fit rivals, but he ran well fresh last term and the booking of Derek O'Connor is another plus for a very progressive horse.