It's day five in Ballybrit, and Alan Dudman is excited at the prospect of Bay Hill lining up in the Galway Blazers...
"That was only his fourth outing over the larger obstacles and he's running from an appealing mark of 126 - which looks tempting given he is rated just 3lb lower over hurdles."
On with day five at Galway, and the third successive all jumps' card. In terms of depth, quality, and each-way betting, this looks the most appealing with some terrific horses on show.
There are three big field handicap hurdles comprising of 18, 18 and 20 runners respectively (at the time of writing), plus a Beginners' and a super-looking Blazers to tail the fixture before the bumper at 19:45.
Great servant could go well in "Blazers"
Let us begin with the Galway Blazers at 19:45, a race in which Gordon Elliott sends out two with Mighty Stowaway and Creadon Grae.
Those don't make it to the list, but one horse that most certainly will is the Padraig Roche-trained Bay Hill - a most remarkable horse for connections.
At nine years of age, he's won at 1m4f and 2m on the Flat, and scored over hurdles from 2m to 2m4f. Throw in a victory at Wexford last summer when he beat Jan Maat at Wexford on his chase debut too, he really has been smashing for all involved with him. Jan Maat however, was a project horse of mine who might be finding himself scratched off soon.
Bay Hill makes it, though.
He showed his first bit of form chasing since Wexford (and two subsequent poor runs) with a good effort at Tipperary over 2m4f earlier this month. That was only his fourth outing over the larger obstacles and he's running from an appealing mark of 126 - which looks tempting given he is rated just 3lb lower over hurdles.
Roche has described him as a summer horse who likes the decent ground, but he has got enough form in soft conditions (and wins) to not be too dogmatic with the sort of surface he'll face on Friday.
He jumped pretty well at Wexford last summer and he looked as enthusiastic as ever for a 9yo back then. It's a new trip, but he's such a grand horse I can see him holding a decent position to attack those two quick fences before the run for home.
Roche's dad Christy knew a thing or two about training winners for owner JP McManus, with Grimes winning at Ballybrit almost 20 years ago. Bay Hill doesn't quite possess the star quality of Grimes, but he's an admirable horse and deserves a big one.
Layers out to get Mengli?
In rewind mode, the proceeding race poses as many questions as answers. Four of the field ran two days' ago, and most in here are on some sort of recovery mission.
For the layers out there, I imagine they are going to be keen on taking on Mengli Khan. He ran in last year's Plate, and there are an awful lot of defeats on his dance card since then - and he's a 150 chaser. I liked him in his early days as a novice, but I have been converted, as a few people were telling me he was over-rated.
It will be good to see him get back, and he had a bit of a confidence booster winning over hurdles at Kilbeggan earlier in the month. He scrambled home in that, and he remains unconvincing with that lofty rating of his.
I was with The Storyteller for the Plate on Tuesday, but something wasn't right straight after the first fence. Jockey Davy Russell had a few looks down before pulling him up very early following some sloppy leaping. He was declared in the contest at the time of writing, and on Thursday evening he was 3.185/40 in the betting. If all is well with him, he really ought to win.
If he lines up, he's a class act and a better horse than Mengli Khan. Simple as that. Blazer might be worth an interest too, as he didn't run too badly on Tuesday.
Elsewhere on the card we are treated to arguably one of the toughest Grade B handicaps of the season. Canardier topped the betting for Willie Mullins last night at 6.411/2, and the trainer has an outstanding chance of adding to this week's impressive tally as he has just the seven representatives.
I am quite tempted to go again with his mare Great White Shark - who was pretty unlucky in the big amateur riders' handicap on Monday. She likes to come from off the pace, but like so many hard luck stories at the track, can either wait on the inside for a non-existent gap, or switch to the outside before the run for home. When the latter happens, you can lose a lot of lengths purely with how tight that final corner is.
Great White Shark was running on, so she'll have a bit more time to get involved over the 2m7f here. She ran a personal best at Cheltenham in the Martin Pipe from 136, and from a 1lb lower mark, I'll give her another chance.
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Back Great White Shark @ 12.011/1 in the 18:15 at Galway
Back Bay Hill Win and Place @ 14.5 in the 19:45 at Galway