WITH almost €150,000 to the winner, this afternoon’s Galway Plate (5.35pm) is the highlight of the seven-day Galway Festival.
The 2m6½f contest is always run at a breakneck gallop and it’s a race where you need plenty of luck.
Gigginstown won a plethora of valuable handicap chases last season, including this one, and they fire six bullets today.
The leading operation has been in the news once again this week following the sacking of Bryan Cooper as number one jockey.
Cooper, who has been desperately unlucky with injuries, doesn’t get first choice anymore but he might not need it today.
He rides A TOI PHIL for Gordon Elliott and it would be typical if he landed the biggest race of the week for Gigginstown just a few days after his demotion.
This seven-year-old had some strong form last season, winning a valuable handicap at Leopardstown and a couple of Grade Two events at Punchestown and Navan.
You need a classy horse to win the Plate these days, which he is, and his mark of 149 looks fair, as does his 16/1 price.
Surprisingly, Willie Mullins has only claimed this prize once, but he’s clearly targeting it this year with at least five runners lining up.
Ruby Walsh has opted for Shaneshill, but he hasn’t run over fences since the 2016 RSA Chase.
Although he could be well-handicapped, this is a tough race to reappear over the larger obstacles and I’m more interested in his stablemate HAYMOUNT.
His last run was in the Irish Grand National where he finished a respectable seventh, while prior to that he was third in the four-miler at Cheltenham.
The drop back in trip should suit well and he is worth adding to the portfolio at 16/1 with 188BET.
A Toi Phil e/w 5.35pm Galway
Haymount e/w 5.35pm Galway