Paul Townend previews his day five rides at Galway Races, including the Guinness Handicap Hurdle
Winning the Galway Plate was just brilliant. Royal Rendezvous gave me a great ride; he jumped so well and that’s always a big advantage around Galway. His jumping was so good that he had a lot of them under pressure behind him. I can’t compare it to winning the first one though back in 2011. It feels like so long ago, I can’t remember.
It’s my last day at Ballybrit and I have six rides, starting with Gamin Original in the Maiden Hurdle (16:00). He’s been disappointing for us to be honest. His first run behind Burning Victory in Fairyhouse was a long time ago and he ran very freely with Brian Hayes on his second run for us at Ballinrobe.
He will have to improve on both of them. Purple Mountain looks the main runner from our stable with Patrick [Mullins] on board.
I ride Ruaille Buaille in the Handicap Hurdle (17:00) and she’s coming here in great form. She had a nice prep in Killarney for it. Two miles is probably sharp enough for her but there looks to be plenty of pace in the race. She is consistent in these handicaps as well ,so I hope she can give a good account of herself again.
In the Guinness Handicap Hurdle (17:30), I am on Stratum. I can’t see too many of the others reaching the same heights as he has on the flat.
His last few runs over hurdles haven’t been great but that’s not due to him being a bad jumper or anything, I just don’t think he was running well at those times. I have gone with him because he was a good winner at Ascot, he stayed the trip no bother, and he won around the track a while back in a maiden hurdle.
He is the classiest horse in the race. My Sister Sarah has good course form and ran well on Monday night. She is promising in these good handicaps but I went with the horse with the higher level of form.
In the Beginners Chase (18:05) I am on Grand Bornand, who was a big disappointment last year. He ran well on his first run before disappointing a few times then before winning his maiden.
I think he’s going to make a nicer novice chaser than he was a hurdler and I think fences will bring about a bit of improvement. His main danger is Henry De Bromhead’s Gloire D’athon. I won a maiden hurdle in Cork a couple of weeks ago on him.
In the Arthur Guinness Chase (18:40), I am on Annamix who ran in the Plate. It is hard to know what a lot of these will do and whether they had a hard race or not in the Plate. On ratings, he has a definite chance but he never really went for Patrick in the Plate.
I am hoping that not having too hard a race will benefit him. At the same time, it’s a worry that he was never competitive. He was slow away from the tapes and was chasing his tail after that. I thought he would be up near me at the front and travelling and jumping well but it was the complete opposite. It might work out that he was just saving himself for me!
My last ride is on Sapphire Lady (19:10), and she could be on the right side of the handicapper. She’s unexposed. I don’t think the trip will be any worry and she is jumping really well. She is coming here off the back of a win at Punchestown and I think there is more to come from her over fences. She lacks experience but she might have a couple of pounds up her sleeve.
With all the handicaps it’s hard to pin down my best chance of the day. I think Stratum has a real live chance and Grand Bornand is going to be a competitive chaser. The latter is probably the safer bet, but I think Stratum could give them all something to think about in the big race.