Only in Galway during race week could you encounter a very well known, instantly recognisable celebrity at the reception desk of your hotel first thing in the morning, enquiring as to whether or not the shoe that they dropped out of their fourth floor window at 3am had been handed in!
Clearly honesty and integrity aren’t in short supply in these parts – the errant footwear had indeed been returned, and was handed back to its grateful owner.
Also pleased at how things have gone so far are the racecourse themselves, as the opening day brought a very healthy crowd of 18,938, a rise of nearly 1,000 people on the comparative figure for 2013.
Figures in the betting ring were up too, with a total of €1,241,109 wagered across the six races, while the Tote kiosks did a brisk trade too, taking in €738,940, a big leap of around €130,000 on 12 months ago.
Anyone who joined the surge of cash for Tony Martin’s Quick Jack in the big one will have been well chuffed, as the favourite surged clear to justify heavy market support in the night’s big race.
The show must go on though, and it’s another evening card on day two headed by the €115,000 Topaz Mile at 6.40pm, live on RTE2.
Tom Segal’s Pricewise column hit the bullseye in the feature event yesterday, suggesting Quick Jack at 7/1.
He’s gone to the well again today, putting forward Dermot Weld’s first-time blinkered Defining Year, for whom the cash has predictably arrived this morning, with the initial 10/1 available with Boylesports and Coral quickly evaporating.
Weld got on the scoresheet late in the day on Monday, striking with easy winner Timiyan in the mile and a half handicap.
Defining Year needs to improve on his recent form, but won on the All Weather at Dundalk earlier in the year, and ran okay when sixth in his warm up race at Leopardstown, and also when sixth in the Irish Lincoln at the Curragh back in March.
The headgear could spark a huge improvement, and he looks to have been laid out for this test.
That said, in a maximum field of 18 there are no shortage of dangers, and four British-trained runners will fancy their chances of at least taking home some prize money.
Kevin Ryan’s Pintura is back for more after being second in this in 2012, while George Baker’s Jack’s Revenge ran a cracker at Royal Ascot when fifth over a furlong shorter in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
Brian Ellison sends over top weight Balty Boys, and also the in-form Baraweez.
The grey Vastonea won this off 89 two years ago and returned to be third off 96 in 2013 – he’s on the same mark today but aided by young Gary Halpin’s seven pound claim.
If successful Vastonea would become just the second ever dual winner of this race after Pinch Hitter in 1981 and ’82.
The one I like though is David Wachman’s big improver General Brook.
Up five pounds for winning over 1m 2f at Leopardstown last time out, that was his second win in three outings this season, and beautifully drawn in stall two he can benefit from a fast pace over this stiff mile as he drops back in trip.
Further encouragement comes from his stable’s form – of his last 16 runners Wachman has seen no less than 12 make the first three, and that’s all we need if we back General Brook at 14/1 each way with any of BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or Skybet.
Elsewhere on the card the chase track is set for a good workout with a field of 12 declared to go to post for the 2m 6f Latin Quarter Chase at 5.35pm.
Trainer Charles Byrnes looks set to be rewarded for sidestepping the Galway Plate with Royal Ascot winner Domination by seeing him take this instead.
As opposed to lugging a big weight in a hotter race the 141-rated multi-talented seven-year-old is firmly suited by the conditions of this event, and after a solid sighter over the bigger obstacles when second at Killarney a fortnight ago he can go one better.
Already a winner over fences at Limerick in March this horse has becoming something of star stayer on the Flat, but is also a four time hurdles scorer too.
In a first-time visor with Davy Russell up top today he is very much the one to be on.
Boylesports and BetVictor both offer 15/8.
Finally, it’s last call for tonight’s Injured Jockeys Fund Plate and Hurdle Preview at the well known McHughs Pub in Castlegar, less than two kilometres from the racecourse itself.
Kicking off at 9.30pm I’ll be joined by trainer John ‘Shark’ Hanlon, top jock Niall McCulagh, Hayley O’Connor of Ladbrokes, plus style guru Marietta Doran.
It’s free to get in and they’ll even send a free burger your way – throw and euro or two in the bucket for the IJF and everyone’s a winner.
Hope to see you there.
Tuesday’s best bets at Galway:
5.35 – Latin Quarter Chase – 11 Domination (win) @ 15/8 (Boylesports and BetVictor)