If Monday and Tuesday have been something akin to a juicy appetiser here in Galway, Wednesday promises to be the most succulent of main courses, with a maximum field of 22 for thetote.com Galway Plate (5.30pm), an extended 2m 6f handicap chase groaning under the weight of €220,000 in prize money, which stretches down to sixth place.
It isn’t the most richly remunerated race at the Festival, that honour goes to the Galway Hurdle with its whopping €300,000, but it’s still enough to have tempted five runners from the Closutton stable of champion trainer Willie Mullins, a pair of visitors from England, plus a host of challengers from powerful Irish stables.
The quality is rising too, with 2013’s AP McCoy-ridden winner Carlingford Lough going on to strike in a pair of Grade 1’s, while last year’s hero Road To Riches hasn’t turned out too shabbily either, subsequently proving what a snip he was in Galway off a mark of 149, winning Grade 1’s in Down Royal and Leopardstown, and then finishing third in both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Gold Cups.
Is there another future star lurking among the 2015 contenders?
There’ll be tips flying around the betting ring for the likes of Jacksonslady (third in this in 2013), Shanpallas, Irish National second Rule The World, Gordon Elliott’s hat-trick seeker Make A Track, Colour Squadron on his first start for Enda Bolger, plus 25/1 shot Alderwood given that he went off 8/1 joint favourite a year ago.
However, surely the one with real potential to improve and win a race of this calibre off a mark of 147 is Alechi Inois?
Ruby Walsh will have faced the choice of the five Mullins runners, and rather than ride top weight Boston Bob (a four time Grade 1 winner) he goes for the rising force of Alechi Inois, very much a tip in itself.
This horse is five from seven over fences, fit from a win over hurdles at Cork on July 10th, and running under a tidy 11st 1lb due to stable companion Boston Bob helpfully keeping the weights down.
He’s proven on both Good and Soft ground, and whereas the likes of Make A Track, Colour Squadron and Rule The World haver to prove they can handle Galway’s famously stiff track, having never run here before, Alechi Inois is a perfect two from two at the venue.
He could still be very well handicapped, and that lengthy list of positives outweigh his lack of handicap experience.
Wednesday’s best bet at Galway: