GALWAY Sat: The Galway Festival has been in full swing all this week and the action continues over the weekend. Here we preview all eight races on Saturday’s mixed card from Ballybrit.
⭕ The action begins with a maiden hurdle (1:55pm) over 2m½f. Emmet Mullins won this race last year and This Songisforu finished a good third in a Flat maiden at Galway on Wednesday. He could take a step forward back over hurdles, but it’s likely Ninth Titan could prove a class apart. A son of Wootton Bassett, he won four of his 11 starts on the Flat in France, and was even thought good enough to contest the French Derby in 2021. On his first run for Willie Mullins, he might take plenty of beating.
⭕ A Listed hurdle (2:30pm) over 2m6½f follows. Willie Mullins has won six of the last 10 renewals of this race and fields the favourite here in Power Of Pause. It may be worth looking further down the field for a bit more value though and Dermot McLoughlin’s Digby catches the eye. He was still travelling well when falling three out in a handicap at last year’s Galway Festival. He’s been given one prep run this season before returning here and a big run looks likely.
⭕ Race three is our first on the Flat; a 1m½f maiden (3:05pm). There isn’t much form to go on with only three of the six runners having raced in the past. Navy Seal ran well when fifth on debut at Killarney last month. Joseph O’Brien’s Bad Desire is an interesting debutant though, and this son of Wootton Bassett, who is related to a Group 3 winner in France could be up to making a winning introduction.
⭕ Another maiden (3:40pm) over the same trip comes next. Dermot Weld is synonymous with Galway Festival winners and has won this race with high-class horses in the past, including Brooch. His filly Katola, a daughter of Awtaad, makes plenty of appeal on debut and is the selection.
⭕ Next up is a 7f nursery handicap (4:15pm) where only four runners are set to stand their ground. Aidan O’Brien’s twice-raced Portland is set to face two last-start winners in Jakajaro and Lia Fail so won’t have it all his own way, but it will be slightly disappointing if this Group 2 entry isn’t capable of recording a first win.
⭕ The 4:50pm handicap over 7f features a much larger field and, as is often the case in Galway handicaps, this is fiercely competitive. Johnny Levins looks to have a strong chance with Shawaamekh, who finished a good second on his reappearance this season back in April, when running over a mile on soft ground. He hasn’t been seen since but has been dropped two pounds to a mark of 73, eight pounds lower than when finishing a half-a-length second over this course and distance last July. He’s clearly well handicapped, and as a prominent racer is also well drawn to attack from stall three.
⭕ The penultimate race is a 1m4f handicap (5:25pm). Joseph Murphy’s Mon Coeur bumped into one when finishing second on handicap debut at Galway on Wednesday. The pair pulled over 10 lengths clear of the third that day. He clearly handles the track and this drop in trip shouldn’t be an issue, so there could be more to come from an unchanged mark on his second handicap start.
⭕ We switch codes for the final race of the day, a Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race (5:55pm) over 2m. Willie Mullins’ The Twelve Pins narrowly missed out over this course and distance last month when beaten by an Emmet Mullins-trained winner. That should give the same yard a marker as to what’s required for Pinky, who also has the benefit of experience after finishing third at Down Royal in June, to get the better of The Twelve Pins.