Paul Townend previews his rides on day four of the Galway Festival, including Bleu Berry in the Beginners Chase
It’s my second day at Ballybrit and I have a busy schedule with seven rides.
I start with Tax For Max in the 16:35 Galway Novice Hurdle. He’s still a maiden but he had a very good run at Fairyhouse for us behind Teahupoo, and a mark of 133 gives him a good shout.
He does tend to race freely which is a worry with the hill in Galway, but I think there’s a bit more to come from him and hopefully he puts his best foot forward.
My second ride of the day is Blue Berry in the 17:10 Beginners Chase. He’s a high-class hurdler, former Cheltenham Festival winner and comes here off the back of a win at Punchestown at the end of May.
He has schooled very well, and I think he has to be a major player. The two main dangers are Speak Easy, who has plenty of experience to call upon, and Streets Of Doyen, who was a good third in last year’s Albert Bartlett. However, I think my horse has a very live chance.
My third ride is in the Grade 3 Novice Chase at 17:45 where I’ll be on Fan De Blues. He has gained a lot of experience through the winter in these handicap chases so dropping back into novice company should benefit him.
There’s a case to be made for plenty in the race including Gin On Lime. She has been extremely impressive winning her last three starts over fences and looks the biggest danger.
In the Galway Hurdle at 18:15, I ride Ciel De Neige for JP McManus and he’s a lovely racing weight. He’s just been touched off in a few of these handicaps before, so he’s being tried with blinkers for the first time so hopefully that will be an aid for him dropping back to two miles.
Burning Victory is Grade 1 winning juvenile with a very good 7lb claimer on her. She will have to jump a lot better than previously but if she gets into a good rhythm, I think she could be on the right side of the handicapper.
At 18:45, I go with Punters Poet in the 2m Handicap Hurdle for Matthew Smith. He wasn’t disgraced on his most recent flat run since winning at Roscommon, beaten by six lengths.
He is a horse who likes to come late so hopefully they go pretty quick and we can find a nice path through.
My next ride comes in the Novice Hurdle at 19:15, where I’m on board Rambranlt’jac. He was a nice winner for us first time out at Fairyhouse, although he was hugely disappointing when he returned for the National meeting.
He hasn’t run since then which is a negative. He seems to be working well enough at home but just the absence to overcome going to Galway isn’t ideal.
M C Muldoon is probably our first choice in this and Patrick Mullins rides that for his mother Jackie. He ran very well at Royal Ascot and we think he has a very live chance.
My final ride of the day is Manitopark AA in the 3m Handicap Hurdle at 19:45. She has been very frustrating to stay the least but stepping up to three miles will hopefully bring about a bit of improvement.
She disappointed after losing her maiden tag in Cork. That looked too bad to be true so she will have to put her best foot forward to be competitive here.
Bleu Berry looks to be my strongest chance on the day, so hopefully he can go on, do the business and have a nice career ahead of him over fences.