It's the first day of the Galway Races 2017 and Tony Keenan hopes to have found some value in Monday's flat races...
"Last year’s running could prove a key form-line and Benkei looks a big price relative to Swamp Fox now that he is 18lbs better off for a three-length defeat in 2016. His form at the track is excellent – he is:3213 here and suited by undulating tracks generally."
As expected, Galway week starts with plenty of cut in the ground and looking at the forecast for the next few days the going is unlikely to be getting quicker any time soon; that's something to bear in mind if you intend playing early on the Plate or Hurdle. Tonight has some tough looking national hunt racing but the flat events later on the card are quite appealing for a bet.
Galway 19:05 - Keatley runner can bounce back to Naas form
There are a few interesting ones in this like Delegating and Thunder Speed but The Mcgregornator stands out as the one that is overpriced. His win at Naas last month was excellent; the time-figure suggests he is still well-treated off 80 and he got a sectional upgrade having raced close to a strong pace. The second Nothing To Lose won soon afterwards and re-opposes but that form should be upheld with The Mcgregornator eight pounds better off.
His subsequent run at the Curragh was superficially disappointing but there were excuses; he was backing up quickly after a hard race on ground quicker than ideal and in any case that race has worked out really well, four subsequent winners emerging from the field already. He gets some soft ground again now in a lower grade race and is also three pounds lower. His draw is less than ideal but as one that tends to go forward he may be able to overcome it.
Empress Lyla is also worth a small bet. The form of her Killarney second looks good, the winner following up soon afterwards and the third and fourth pulling clear in a competitive Leopardstown handicap last Thursday. Her trainer Sheila Lavery has developed an affinity with this meeting and is of the view her horse wants soft ground which she will get here.
Galway 19:40 - Take Benkei and Memphis against the rest in feature
This is a strong-looking renewal of the Connacht Hotel Handicap with Swamp Fox the clear pick of the market leaders. He was very good in winning the race last year and while 10lbs higher now it is worth pointing out that he has gone from a mark of 118 to 148 over hurdles in the meantime. That improvement hasn't been translated to the flat yet for the simple reason that he hasn't had the opportunity and while his form over the winter was ordinary, the reapplication of blinkers seems to have sparked him again. The problem with him is the price but I would definitely be interested in him were he to drift.
Last year's running could prove a key form-line and Benkei looks a big price relative to Swamp Fox now that he is 18lbs better off for a three-length defeat in 2016. His form at the track is excellent - he is 3213 here and suited by undulating tracks generally - and while his efforts early this flat season were ordinary, he returned to form with a vengeance in a listed race at Down Royal on Friday. There was a little bit of cheap late gains in his fourth place finish there but it was still an excellent run considering he was off a break and returned a Betfair SP of 55.93. This is exactly the same preparation as he had last year which can hardly be a negative.
The other one to be interested in is Miles To Memphis. He is unbeaten in four flat runs including bumpers which isn't a major surprise given his hurdling can be poor. Though his win last time came in a ladies-only race it would be unwise to assume the form is sub-standard; the race brought together a number of likeable sorts, the time was good and the fourth has won since. Given how he went through that race, the step up to two miles will suit and it is another plus that Lisa O'Neill keeps the ride; many of these jockeys won't have ridden their mounts in a race before but O'Neill has been on Miles To Memphis the last twice.
1 Point Back The Mcgregornator @ 15.5 or bigger in the Galway 19:05
0.5 Point Back Empress Lyla @ 11.010/1 or bigger in the Galway 19:05
1 Point Back Benkei @ 23.022/1 or bigger in the Galway 19:40
1 Point Place Back Benkei @ 6.05/1 or bigger in the Galway 19:40
1 Point Back Miles To Memphis @ 15.014/1 or bigger in the Galway 19:40
1 Point Place Back Miles To Memphis @ 4.216/5 or bigger in the Galway 19:40
2017 P+L: +11.4 points