David Myers examines the runners and odds ahead of Wednesday’s Galway Plate (5:30pm), the feature race of the Galway Festival 2013.
Romanesco @ 8/1
Laganbank @ 20/1
Wednesday’s Galway Plate is for many, the showpiece event of the week at Galway, and one that will be long associated with the mighty Ansar, who won back-to-back renewals several years back. It is also Ansar who provides one of the first clues to cracking this superb handicap, as he was the only horse from 46 runners during the last 10 years to win carrying 11st or more when winning his second Plate.
It’s a fact that needs digesting before glancing through this year’s runners and riders, and where those allocated 10st13lb or lighter have preference.
One such runner who fits that profile is the current 6/1 favourite Carlingford Laugh (10st5lb), who lines-up for this assignment having not been seen for 79 days when a close runner-up in a Killarney handicap chase (2mf, soft).
While that took his record to 0-8 over fences, that was his best effort to date over the bigger fences since landing a valuable handicap hurdle at this very festival 12 months ago (2m6f, soft). The feeling is that he has been prepared to the minute for another crack at Galway and the recent money for him supports that theory.
Elsewhere, Willie Mullins has struck once in the race since 2003 and has one of the leading chances in Terminal (11st2lb), who was last seen unseating at the Punchestown festival in April, having won a Grade 2 novice back in February. The market could point up his chances on the day, where he is currently a 10/1 chance.
Mullins has another attractive proposition, however, in Laganbank (10st12lb), who has shown his form more recently by winning a small chase at Tipperary 10 days ago (2m1f, good to firm), and showed when winning a 2m5f chase last June that he has the stamina for this race – each of the last 10 Galway Plate winners scored over 2m4f-2m6f in a National Hunt race.
At 12/1, Laganbank looks to have the right profile for this race, as does Romanesco (10st7lb), who was fairly well fancied when falling in the Irish Grand National in April, but will be a danger to all if returning to the form of his Cheltenham third in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase (3m2f, good to soft).
Also with a decent profile is Double Seven (10st), who could surprise a few if getting into the race from the bottom of the handicap. Victorious on his last two outings this summer (2m4f & 3m1f), he is improving fast and will enjoy the drying ground.
But, what of those that on paper have a mountain to climb near the top of the weights. Well, that group of runners includes the 9/1 shot, Mossey Joe (11st6lb), who has won both hunter chases this summer (2m6f & 3m4f) to take his overall chase record to 7-11.
Such a solid record makes him an appealing proposition in Wednesday’s Plate, though he’ll need to improve again with such a big weight. Another with a concerning weight on 11st7lb is the top-weight, Rathlin (10/1), who also arrives having won both chase outings this season (2m5f & 2m6f).
However, with the trends of this event pointing to those in the bottom half of the handicap, it could be worth splitting stakes on Romanesco, Laganbank and Double Seven – all of whom are available at attractive double-figure odds.