Galway Festival Tips: Back the champ and the rookie in feature on day four

Tudor City Galway Hurdle winner
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The Galway Hurdle is the feature race on Thursday, and Alan Dudman is looking towards trainers Tony Martin and Gordon Elliott to hit the target...

"He loves a fast pace to race off so he can utilise his customary late surge."

Back Tudor City @ [18.0] in the Galway Hurdle at 18:45

Thursday's racing is again National Hunt all the way due to the need to adapt to the current climate, and it's a card that comprises of four novice events split evenly between hurdles and fences, plus a bumper. In terms of quality there is the Grade 3 at 17:45, but nothing really stood out in these events in terms of finding a selection.

As for the handicap hurdles, it's big fields all the way; which is far from an ideal plan considering it's been a struggle to find a winner in the opening couple of days. Hopefully The Storyteller is okay, though, having been pulled up in the Plate yesterday.

Unexposed De Bromhead hurdler could take all the beating

The 19:45 is over 3m and there are a few in-running angles to consider. Plus a few old-timers pitched in against the young guns.

Henry De Bromhead's mare Tune The Chello comes under the bracket of the latter and she's atypical of one from the yard. Yes, it's a bit of a well-trodden cliche, but it's worth using with her as she'll make her mark over fences one day.

She improved for the trip and better ground over near-enough 3m last time to win at Killarney, and her stamina really kicked in late when pressed. She's an out-and-out stayer by the looks of things and could be played as a back-to-lay if she goes from the front again, or she could go higher with the possibility of a flat spot. She hit [5.0] In-Play at Killarney from a BSP [2.36].

Lightly-raced winner over hurdles. 5/4, career best when winning 14-runner novice hurdle at Killarney (22.8f, good to soft) 23 days ago, bit in hand. Makes handicap hurdle debut.

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Date Course/Class Pos Type Dist. Gng. HDGR WGT Jockey BSP
07/07/20 Killarney 1/14 Hurdle 2m 6f 180y Gd/sft 11st 1lbs Robbie Power 2.36
30/01/20 Limerick 3/14 Hurdle 2m 5f Heavy 11st 4lbs Robbie Power 6.14
01/01/20 Tramore 2/15 Hurdle 2m 5f Soft 10st 8lbs Rachael Blackmore 8.19
10/12/19 Tramore 4/15 Hurdle 2m Heavy 10st 13lbs Robbie Power 28.44

Her attitude is grand, though. The figure up last night on the Exchange was at [5.5] to back her for handicap debut from her new mark of 109.

Cooldine Bog is another dangerous customer if allowed a lead, but he disappointed in one run at the festival here in 2019 - admittedly in a better race over shorter.

I think he's improved for the step up to 3m recently, plus he has the jockey's claim (Cathal Landers with 5lb), and I like claiming riders in these big handicaps.

There's the possibility of a 'closer' in the shape of the grizzled veteran The Trigger. He bolted up last time at Limerick to take advantage of a lower hurdles' rating in relation to his chase mark and he's going well. Cooldine Bog is a possibility for a trade to lay your stake back, but I'm not totally convinced he can win.

The 18:15 is altogether more difficult; with 18 low-grade handicap hurdlers - but that's the charm of Galway. These sort of horses can enjoy their day in the sun.

Rare Conor seems to have found a bit extra for the recent conversion to running over 2m4f, so he'll be interesting back at the minimum trip. The stamina could kick into play with the hill and the pace and he didn't run too badly at Punchestown last time in the same grade. He's not too badly handicapped either and could be a lively runner at a price of around [16.0].

Gordon Elliott sends out Fight For Love who is one of the rarities in this - a horse with winning form. He is only a 7yo and took advantage of a falling mark at Fairyhouse last time, but he wouldn't strike me as bet material.

Reigning champ and up-and-comer to be considered for Galway Hurdle

For the big race itself, take note the Sportsbook have the EXTRA PLACE SPECIAL in operation and as I outlined in Tuesday's preview, never be afraid of a price at Galway.

My number one selection is not exactly "out of the ball park" stuff, but the 10/1 Sportsbook offer of Aramax and the Exchange price of [12.0] is attractive enough.

He's the youngest in the field as a 4yo, and it is going to be fascinating to see how he compares against some of the old favourties such as Petit Mouchoir and Galway season ticket holder Tudor City. More on him later.

Two wins from 4 runs last season. Career best when winning 22-runner juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham (16.4f, soft, 15/2) 141 days ago, travelling strongly. Cheekpieces back on. Should progress.

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Date Course/Class Pos Type Dist. Gng. HDGR WGT Jockey BSP
11/03/20 Cheltenham Boodles Juvenile Hurdle 1/22 Hurdle 2m 87y Soft 11st 8lbs M. P. Walsh 9.48
08/02/20 Naas 1/5 Hurdle 1m 7f 180y Soft 11st 1lbs M. P. Walsh 5.11
11/01/20 Fairyhouse 3/6 Hurdle 2m Heavy 11st 5lbs M. P. Walsh 8.81
26/12/19 Leopardstown -/8 Hurdle 2m Soft 10st 12lbs M. P. Walsh 12.5
07/07/19 Vittel 1/6 Hurdle 2m 89y Good 0 10st 12lbs Raymond O'Brien -
12/05/19 Dieppe 3/16 Hurdle 1m 7f 200y Soft 10st 3lbs Raymond O'Brien -

Aramax won the Boodles at the Cheltenham festival (Fred Winter in old money) from a mark of 138 on a stellar day for his trainer Elliott - who saddled the first, third and fourth in that. Aramax travels strongly in his races but I loved the end product too at Prestbury Park, and he could be just the type to take to Galway.

It's encouraging that he faced-up to the large field as a juvenile really well, especially as Elliott had said he was slightly worried about the soft ground for him back then. You can click here to read what the trainer his to say about his chances on Thursday.

He hammered a field in a novice over 2m at Naas during the winter and he looks strong at the business end. He's a big contender as an unexposed runner and cheekpieces will be applied.

And so is Galway regular Tudor City - who finally got his big pay day at the track when winning this race in 2019. So often he's been a horse that meets trouble, but that race really fired him up 12 months ago, so too an inspired Robbie Power, and it was "Puppy" that coaxed him home. This time his trainer Tony Martin has gone for the 5lb of Sean O'Keeffe. That offsets some of the higher mark this time around.

One win from 2 runs last season. Respectable tenth of 16 in handicap at Cork (12f, good, 22/1) 25 days ago, badly hampered. Switches from Flat to hurdles. Not taken lightly.

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Date Course/Class Pos Type Dist. Gng. HDGR WGT Jockey BSP
05/07/20 Cork 10/16 Flat 1m 4f Good z 8st 9lbs Trevor Whelan 44.5
11/10/19 Dundalk 11/14 Flat 1m 2f 150y Slow z 8st 11lbs R. C. Colgan 25
15/09/19 Curragh 4/16 Flat 1m 2f Good h 8st 7lbs S. P. Davis 6.12
24/08/19 York 8/14 Flat 1m 2f 56y Firm z 8st 5lbs John Egan 8.86
01/08/19 Galway 1/18 Hurdle 2m 11y Good z 11st 0lbs Robbie Power 15.36
11/07/19 Leopardstown 5/9 Flat 1m 2f Good z 8st 4lbs N. G. McCullagh 7.84
12/05/19 Killarney 2/12 Hurdle 2m 1f Good z 11st 0lbs E. O'Connell 8.69
23/04/19 Fairyhouse 2/16 Hurdle 2m Gd/sft z 10st 8lbs E. O'Connell 11.5
02/02/19 Leopardstown 8/19 Hurdle 2m Good z 10st 9lbs Denis O'Regan 18.7
27/12/18 Leopardstown 5/17 Hurdle 2m Good z 11st 3lbs E. O'Connell 8.21
02/12/18 Fairyhouse 2/21 Hurdle 2m Good z 10st 3lbs R. C. Colgan 21.33
21/10/18 Naas 3/13 Flat 1m 2f Gd/sft z 8st 12lbs Fran Berry 4.81
16/09/18 Curragh 2/19 Flat 1m 2f Good z 8st 7lbs S. P. Davis 27
23/08/18 Killarney 4/14 Flat 1m 6f Good z 8st 13lbs R. C. Colgan 55
03/08/18 Galway 9/11 Flat 1m 4f Heavy z 8st 12lbs R. P. Whelan 9.2
30/07/18 Galway 5/20 Flat 2m 179y Good z 10st 10lbs Liam Quinlan 50.06
03/02/18 Leopardstown 5/28 Hurdle 2m Soft z 10st 3lbs Donagh Meyler 90
05/11/17 Naas 6/16 Flat 1m 6f Soft z 9st 3lbs K. J. Manning 16.25
28/10/17 Leopardstown 5/16 Flat 1m 4f 20y Soft + 9st 4lbs Oisin James Orr 8.6
20/09/17 Fairyhouse 1/12 Flat 1m 2f Heavy z 8st 11lbs Oisin James Orr 4.06
05/08/17 Galway 3/17 Flat 1m 3f 180y Heavy + 9st 7lbs C. T. Keane 6.89

He loves a fast pace to race off so he can utilise his customary late surge. So he has to be of interest, especially as he'd gone out to [18.0] on Wednesday evening.

And what a horse he has been around Ballybrit ever since he won as a 3yo at this festival in 2015. The recent Flat spin at Cork in their Derby (where he again met a bit of trouble) will have him spot-on as he bids to retain his crown.

Click here for Kevin Blake's course guide to Galway

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