Galway Day Four Tips: Whiskey on the lookout for another festival win at Ballybrit
Galway reverts to an afternoon meeting for Thursday, and Alan Dudman is hoping trainer Willie Mullins can deliver in the feature Galway Hurdle...
"Whiskey Sour clearly loves the tights bends the track presents and seems to relish the stiff finish. Indeed, it could fire him up a bit as he can come from a long way back in races."
14:15 Galway - Foret's stamina gives him a chance
I had no strong view for the opening contest on the card, so we'll go straight into the Grade 3 Novices' Chase in which Willie Mullins has four in the field. Cadmium is top rated on figures at 147 and looked a proper horse when winning a Grade B Handicap at Punchestown in April. He tore the race apart with an eight length success from 133 and he backed that up with a comfortable victory at Roscommon last time.
He will take a lot of beating on that Punchestown performance, but I am not a backer of 11/10 chances.
The trainer's Robin Des Foret is a handy horse and the potential pace of the race could suit him. He could be interesting at around [5.0], even if he is the Mullins' second string.
Let's touch on the pace; as Ornua, Le Martalin, Miss Sapphire, Screaming Rose and Balbir Du Mathan have all forced the issue at some point, so I'd be surprised if they dawdled around here. With that in mind, Robin Des Foret stays well with form at a variety of trips - including at 2m6f and 3m.
His jumping hasn't quite been on a par with Cadmium's, and he's displayed some untidy fencing in his four runs over fences to date. But he acts around the track and has two seconds in a previous couple of festivals here. In many ways he looks like a typical Galway horse as he can often travel quite well, but he does stay strongly.
It's surprising with that in mind he hasn't won here in the past.
The stamina angle is the main point, but the jumping is the negative. He could hit one, so there could be an opportunity to back him at a higher price in the run. Ground-wise he has form on good and heavy so conditions won't be a problem.
14:50 Galway - Bad draw but ideal conditions for Weld filly
Watching the action on Wednesday evening, conditions took a real turn for the worse for the penultimate and last race on the Flat course, and with more rain predicted on Thursday, that should really suit Dermot Weld's Knowing You.
Her mother was as tough as old boots and loved heavy conditions, and so did one of her relations. There are many positives - she looked progressive last season with a couple of wins and she stays very well. She steps up in trip from 7f last time, and today's distance with the ground will play to her strengths. Add to that the claim of Oisin Orr and his 3lb.
Now the bad news; she's drawn in 12.
That's a real blow. You can win of course from a wide draw, but riding six or seven off the turn really makes life difficult - unless the ground is so chewed up on the inside rail by Thursday, someone might take a bold option of sticking wide. She's priced at 5/1 on the Sportsbook and there will be takers, especially as the Weld devotees haven't been quite as successful this meeting as in the past, and we are waiting for the Master of Rosewell to hit top gear.
I like the visor coming out instead of the blinkers, as she hasn't really fired this term. If she drifts a bit pushing nearer 7/1, I could be interested as she will love testing conditions with a test of stamina.
A low draw could get Georgian Bay into the frame if you are looking for an each-way or place bet. I remember him as a decent handicapper with Karl Burke - and he's been in some good races down the years. At eight years of age he isn't quite as good as he used to be, but he's reasonably treated from a mark of 83.
His best run this season came on reappearance in what was his first start for the yard - finishing third at the Curragh from 82. He does stay on late in races and he steps back up in trip.
Whether he wants it really testing I am not so sure, but he won the Longines Race at Ascot in the past on soft under Katie Walsh.
15:25 Galway - Yulong can take the gold
This is the Flat feature race for the fillies on Ladies' Day, and the ratings suggest this Listed event is up to scratch. Four of the field hold three-figure ratings and Aidan O'Brien has a trio of contenders - including Hence. Who I can never get right, so I'll leave her alone.
I expect Panstarr to make the running. She was progressive last term in a tough campaign of 11 races. She stays further than today's trip and handles testing ground. She might represent a nice trade In-Play and she's tough.
However, with the ground as it was on Wednesday night and conditions looking bad with poor visibility, it should play to the strengths of Dermot Weld's Yulong Gold Fairy.
She is the favourite, but she's the form pick judged on her "plugging on" effort in the Irish 1,000 Guineas behind Alpha Centauri. This is a drop in grade and she also reverts back down to 7f - which could be her ideal trip. But it's soft ground that looks key, as she absolutely bolted up last term at Naas in beating the 90-rated Quizical by six lengths.
16:35 Galway - Time to toast Whiskey again at his favourite track
The feature Galway Plate yesterday went to Clarcam - who returned a massive 80.89 BSP. It won't put me off having a dart with Whiskey Sour - but credit to Mark Enright on Wednesday in the big race, he gave that horse some ride as he slipped away from the field.
On to the Galway Hurdle, and saying Whiskey Sour likes Galway is akin to Yorkshireman Wilfred Rhodes once describing Don Bradman as a "good bat".
Whilst the Willie Mullins' horse has yet to reach Bradman proportions in terms of numbers, he's a tremendously tough character for his size. He's only small but he's a robust little fighter who like many of Jeremy's offspring - seems to really adore soft going.
His love affair with Galway was strong last season - as he landed both the Premier Handicap from 91 and the stayers' race for amateurs under Aubrey McMahon. He gave him some ride that day, and that now seems to be Aubrey's race having nutted Limini earlier in the week. He also won his maiden here in 2015.
Whiskey Sour clearly loves the tights bends the track presents and seems to relish the stiff finish. Indeed, it could fire him up a bit as he can come from a long way back in races. That was certainly the case with his third in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham from 141, and he was also given a lot to do in a Grade 1 Novice at Punchestown.
He'll need to sit a bit closer today - especially if there's an Enright-like move from the front.
I often look at these big handicaps now and you really need a graded performer in these sort of contests, and the selection has been competing at top-level in his novice races. From a mark of 143 he gets the nod for another Galway win.
There is also a 5 Places market available for those hunting down some bigger prices.
Minimum Bet Guarantee for ALL races from Galway and Goodwood
Betfair's 'minimum bet guarantee' on all Class 1 and 2 races in the UK and Ireland - which means all customers are able to bet to win a minimum of £500 - has been extended to cover all races from Galway and Goodwood this week. T&Cs apply.
Back Knowing You @ BSP in the 14:50 at Galway
Back Yulong Gold Fairy @ [3.75] in the 15:25 at Galway
Back Whiskey Sour @ [9.0] in the 16:35 at Galway