With the highlight of the Irish summer season just days away, Tony Keenan has been through the Galway Plate and Hurdle markets to find the early value...
"Diakali has always been a two-miler in my eyes – 11214141 over the trip – and was only forced to race over further because the stable had Hurricane Fly at that time."
The Galway Plate looks a market for a bet, not least because it is likely to be very different next Wednesday just before the off. Currently, we have a 9.08/1 jolly with a clatter of horses priced between 17.016/1 and 21.020/1. My reading is that the favourite Alelchi Inois will go off around 5.04/1 provided the ground isn't soft and those horses in the cluster behind him go two ways; some will be single figures while others will be 40.039/1 plus on the machine.
Finding which will fall into the first group is the key to getting the value and hopefully the race winner.
The case for Alelchi Inois is simple and if you do fancy him now is the time to play. He represents the Willie/Ruby axis, is two from two at the track and has had a lovely prep. My worry is his mark of 147; he could be harshly treated. He has beaten a horrible bunch in his five chase wins and while it would be unfair to judge him on his two November graded runs on soft ground, it is possible he has found his ceiling.
Rebel Fitz is the horse I like for this race, though I can't recommend him ante-post as he is an uncertain runner. He's a very good horse that hasn't been campaigned like one, his connections swerving Cheltenham and the winter season generally for summer jumps and this meeting in particular. He could be a class, if not two classes, above this field and has lost just once in five course starts. When winning the 2014 Powers Gold Cup, he looked like this trip would suit and this old school Galway horse is worth backing if he runs.
In his possible absence, I'll take two against the field. Rawnaq has yet to convince he's a Galway horse but a price of 27.026/1 more than compensates as he has just about everything else right. His preparation has been perfect and he was third in a Cheltenham Festival handicap off 1lb lower when a mistake at the last may have cost him.
Shanpallas is a big price at 17.016/1. His last run when pulled up looks dismal but he has badly hampered by a faller that day. Though his recent chase form hasn't really worked out, he caught the eye when travelling strongly in the Paddy Power in November before the soft ground found him out and he faded into the sixth. He's actually 2lbs lower than that run and one can be sure he's been aimed at this for a while.
The Galway Hurdle is a more static market. Quick Jack heads the betting and deservedly so. He has the Galway form and Tony Martin has been brilliant here in recent seasons. The ground went against him when it rained on the morning of the County Hurdle but he ran well in the circumstances and that form has worked out. Odds of 7.06/1 are just a bit short for me - he is 23lbs higher than his last winning mark - but I can't put anyone off.
Diakali on the other hand looks a big price at 14.013/1. This has been a race for class horses lately with the likes of Overturn, Rebel Fitz and Missunited winning and Diakali is a Grade 1 horse. He's always been a two-miler in my eyes - 11214141 over the trip - and was only forced to race over further because the stable had Hurricane Fly at that time.
He went close off the same mark in the 2014 County Hurdle when not getting the run of the race and that form is white-hot; the winner Lac Fontana won a Grade 1 next time, the second was Arctic Fire while the likes of Flaxen Flare and Deep Trouble were further back. He won the Grimes Hurdle, often a key trial for this, as his prep and I can see him being much shorter on the day.
I can't resist a small saver on Hidden Cyclone. It's always a concern how a chaser will adapt back to hurdles but he could be a blot off 137; he was a graded novice hurdler in his youth and borders on Champion Chase class at this point. The 10yo has no shortage of gears as we saw at Leopardstown last time and is a fair price at 10.09/1.
Back Rawnaq @ 27.026/1 and Shanpallas @ 17.016/1 in the Galway Plate, Wednesday July 29, 17:30
Back Diakali @ 14.013/1 and Hidden Cyclone @ 10.09/1 in the Galway Hurdle, Thursday July 30, 16:45