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Paul Townend previews his day three rides at Galway Races, including the Galway Plate

| 16.07.2021

It seems like it was about forty years ago now, but my favourite memory of the Galway Races was winning the Galway Hurdle as a claimer for John Kiely on Indian Pace. It was a massive springboard for me. Everyone watches Galway so it’s a great place to get noticed. It was a huge part of my early career.

It’s different now that we are only at the festival for three days. It was a pain in the neck driving over and back for seven days for say one ride. Now we go there with plenty of rides so it’s great.

The atmosphere will be missed again this year. That buzz in the air is what I loved most about this week. You would feel it from the car park. Obviously, there are 1,000 people allowed in this year so hopefully we hear a little bit of noise if we have a winner.

There isn’t one specific horse I am really excited about. Instead, it’s all about the two main races; the Plate and the Hurdle.

I think I have two good rides and these are the races we want to win. I have Royal Rendezvous in the Galway Plate but I won’t nail my colours to the mast just yet for the Hurdle.

Dark Voyager (17:10)

On Wednesday, I start with Dark Voyager in the two-mile Novice Hurdle (17:10). He was a very impressive maiden winner earlier this season. He started out over hurdles last year with a good second, but his form just petered out a little bit after that.

However, we think he has matured a lot since then. He is still only a four-year-old so he gets that allowance and I think he will be a smarter horse this year.

Lasparas (17:45)

We have an exciting horse in the Maiden Hurdle (17:45) in the form of Lasparas. He is a bumper and point-to-point winner. He won snugly enough in Tramore for my sister Jodie in a bumper. It’s a typical Galway maiden hurdle.

A lot of people have kept one aside for it and there are little bits of decent form in there but this lad looks like he might be a nice novice hurdler going forward for the season. It would be brilliant to get his jumping career off to the best possible start. Being a point-to-point winner, I think 2m 5f in Galway will be no harm to him. He should have no problem with the hill or the distance.

Royal Rendezvous (18:15) 

I am back for another crack at the Galway Plate, riding Royal Rendezvous as I mentioned already.

He was second in the race last year and only beaten by 3/4L . He is 7lbs higher this year. Watching it back last year, I hope we can make up the 7lbs. There are probably a number of unexposed novices again this year but he has good course form which is a huge plus for Galway.

It seems to be a track that horses go back to year after year and run well. Willie Mullins has a lot of runners in it so there were a few decisions to be made but this horse gave me no reason not to ride him so I stuck with him.

Samcro, Easy Game, and Battleoverdoyen bring very high standards and levels of form to the table. You have the proven horses at the top and the horses that are probably open to a little bit of improvement down the bottom.

If Koshari gets into a good rhythm, he has a lovely racing weight with Brian Hayes on board. He had a good win over hurdles at Punchestown but he ran a disappointing race here last year which is a negative for him.

You would be inclined to go for course form and The West’s Awake ticks that box. He ran very well in the race last year and will run well again. The novices are the unknown and the ones open to most improvement.

You need an awful lot of luck in these races, especially at Galway. It’s straight up the hill, down to the first where it gets very tight. It’s like a bottle neck down to the first fence and your race can be over by the time you’ve jumped one fence so it is very important to get away and get into a rhythm.

If they don’t go fast it can get very congested in behind. It’s a tricky place and that’s why course form stands to a lot of horses who come here. I am confident Royal Rendezvous will run a big race but in this sort of race it is hard to be confident that he will win.

Klassy Kay (18:45)

My last ride is Klassy Kay (18:45). She was very impressive winning in Wexford the last day for Jodie but she got 10lbs for winning so that won’t make it easy for her. A lot of the fancied horses fell in that race so I thought the handicapper was hard enough on her.

She travelled sweetly and the win will do her confidence the world of good. She is straight forward and stays. It won’t be easy overcoming 10lbs but a filly like that who is gaining confidence can hopefully put in a nice run again.

My best chance of the day is Dark Voyager. He was impressive the last day and I am hoping for a big performance from him.


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Paul Townend

Paul is an Irish jockey who competes in National Hunt racing and is an integral part of the famous and vastly successful Willie Mullins team. Paul was Irish jump racing Champion Jockey for the 2010-11 season and will be discussing his rides in a weekly blog with Ladbrokes News throughout the jumps season.