It's Day Two at Galway and Alan Dudman takes over from Tony Keenan with four bets planned for the action at Ballybrit...
"Saltonstall travelled very well for a large chunk of the Hunt Cup, but he might have gone too soon over the far side. Maybe I am offering excuses, but he can throw in the odd stinker."
Tuesday offers a bit of everything with a pair of Maiden races, a Beginners' Chase, a Novices' Hurdle and a couple of big field handicaps, and I like any festival that takes place in the evening. It's what makes Galway so unique and don't forget the Sportsbook are offering the ITV and Galway Winner Special.
Let's get straight into the action.
17:20 Galway - Mullins holds all the aces
The market is very much predicting a "one-two" for trainer Willie Mullins. He has Exchange Rate 2.3411/8 and Pakora 3.259/4, with the latter receiving weight. Both travelled strongly in their latest respective victories - Exchange Rate bossed a field at Wexford and landed the odds with plenty in hand. Whilst Pakora won a Cork mares' race by three lengths quite easily. She was a fair sort on the Flat in France, and from a pedigree angle it's nice to see some of the Monsun blood represented at Galway with these two.
It's hard to get away from the obvious, and the Pakora price of 3.259/4 is certainly one to consider trading In-Play with the way she smoothly won last time.
I toyed with the idea of backing Henry De Bromhead's One In All In as he looks a horse who is improving and produced a personal best won scoring at Limerick last time. His jumping was spot on that day and he looks a fairly quick hurdler with his technique.
He shaped like a stayer to me at Down Royal with the way he was driven to go after the leader before they raced downhill there, but he was beaten fair and square by Exchange Rate in June - and One In All In has to give the favourite weight again. He could outstay them and the price is half-tempting at 11.010/1 considering De Bromhead has fired in 26 winners since June, but I'll leave alone for today.
17:55 Galway - Gangster to put his experience to good use
The hardy dual-purpose Flat and hurdles' horse St Stephens Green is the right favourite here at 11/4 on the Sportsbook. Whether backing a chase debutant in a Beginners' race over the larger ones is everybody's cup of tea I am not so sure - but he beat the 96-rated Clongowes on the Flat last time over 2m. He's a big horse so I imagine he'll take to fences well, and he also holds a decent run at Galway from 2016 - finishing second behind the Ebor winner Heartbreak City.
He wants decent ground, probably the quicker the better. With him staying 2m well, the extra 2f here should suit. He has a lot going for him bar jumping a fence.
One that has plenty of experience in that sphere is Gangster. Quite how this horse is 0-6 chasing is a mystery based on his early novice form against some decent horses. Indeed, he has kept better company in the past than what he will face today, but his effort at Wexford last time was lamentable.
If we put a line through that, he looks an interesting one at at 8.6015/2 with the excellent Rachael Blackmore on.
He went off too hard at Kilbeggan back in April, whilst he was unsurprisingly outpaced in a stop-start race against Jezki over hurdles. That was his comeback run following a year on the sidelines so I am prepared to give him one more chance at the price - especially with his experience.
Gangster will stay well and one of his better performances came on good ground in his younger days (although his very best is on soft and heavy). He could also make the running here.
18:25 Galway - Weld filly to follow in footsteps of Eziyra
If it's pedigrees and families you like; there's a lot more to this Fillies' Maiden than meets the eye. There was a small amount of cash in the blue last night to back Aidan O'Brien's Hermosa at 2.0421/20 following her debut run. I doubt anyone missed that outing and with the anticipated improvement - she'll have her takers I am sure, at a tick over even money.
She's a full-sister to the Group 1-winning Hydrangea and she holds an entry in the Moyglare later in the season. Her trainer also has newcomer Enticed in the field, who is a full sister to Capri and cost 800,000 guineas.
Perhaps Hermosa's 2.0421/20 price is a reflection of the fall-out from Magic Wand and Kew Gardens - the former had a dirty nose and the latter missed the King George due to a bad scope. The yard's Mount Tabora was beaten yesterday at 15/8F - but he's not a horse to gauge that particular angle. In many ways her price represents a classic Betfair horse - for those looking to lay as well as back.
If you like going with newcomers, and it would be a complete guess on my part with a bet on Tarnawa, the 6.806/1 is big enough if she's ready first time.
She's a Dermot Weld/Aga Khan project who makes her debut, and Weld has won this race four times since 2008 - compared to O'Brien's three.
Tarnawa's mother won a Listed race in Galway and as a Shamardal filly (a sire I like at 10f), this is a good starting point at 7f. Her draw isn't great, but Weld won this in 2016 with Eziiyra and she overcame a double-figure berth.
19:05 Galway - Will the King finally be crowned?
Weld introduces another newcomer here in the shape of Dabiyr for the 7f Maiden. He's making his debut as a 3yo and has a couple of 1m6f winners in his pedigree, so he may be more of a slow-burner and can be backed at 7.6013/2.
Could today be the day finally for Would Be King? Maybe there should be the question mark attached to his name officially, as the horse has held a three-figure rating with form in Group 3 and Listed company - but he still hasn't won a race despite his talent and was beaten at Dundalk last time at a BSP of 1.21. He was turned over in that run at 1.132/15 in-play - a similar sort of price to Limini in the big Amateur race yesterday.
There's also a 1.01 filly in this race - Iiex Excelsa. She was beaten at the basement price on her second start at Cork.
I personally wouldn't be taking on Would Be King and his rating of 98, even though he is 0-7.
19:40 Galway - Saltonstall to bounce back after Ascot flop
This looks a cracker of a handicap - and I am going in again with Saltonstall at 9.4017/2.
I say "again", as I put this horse up for the Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot and felt he looked an ideal type for the race. Maybe the ground was far too quick for him at Ascot, but I thought it might have suited. With form on soft and heavy, I remain open-minded about the surface. Perhaps good ground with a touch of ease might suit?
Saltonstall travelled very well for a large chunk of the Hunt Cup, but he might have gone too soon over the far side. Maybe I am offering excuses, but he can throw in the odd stinker.
However, with his second in the Irish Lincolnshire and a Premier Handicap win at the Curragh earlier in the season, he has made up for lost time after missing most of his 3yo campaign.
Also we have to salute the old warrior Brendan Brackan. A winner of this race in great style back in 2013 - it's wonderful to see past champions coming back to defend titles. At nine years of age he isn't the force of old, but it wouldn't be right if he didn't have an honourable mention. We salute you Brendan.
20:40 Galway - Alan to go in for O'Brien
I'll keep the final selection fairly brief as the closing 7f Handicap looks fairly open.
Alans Pride can be backed at 9.6017/2 and is the type that can take a handy position from his low inside draw. He can be excused for his latest run at Limerick as he done too much too soon in the race, and maybe off 78 he is towards the ceiling of his rating.
But this is more a punt on the trainer Richard O'Brien - a fast-improving handler who can squeeze out a bit more improvement from Alans Pride. He's 10lb higher from his Curragh victory on reappearance, so that is a slight worry, but the price does compensate for that, but O'Brien is really making a name for himself this term.
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 Gangster @ 8.6015/2 in the 17:55 at Galway
Back Tarnawa @ 6.806/1 in the 18:25 at Galway
Back Saltonstall @ 9.6017/2 in the 19:40 at Galway
Back Alans Pride @ 9.6017/2 in the 20:40 at Galway