David Myers previews the runners and odds for Thursday’s 2013 Galway Hurdle and tips up his selections for the two-mile handicap fixture.
Ted Veale @ 6/1
Thursday’s Galway Hurdle at 4.55pm is a two-mile handicap that offers a fantastic opportunity for punters to get rich ahead of the remaining three days of the Galway Festival. Recent evidence suggests a juicy price could well pop up, with only one winning favourite in the last eight renewals.
But, before flicking through the runners, it’s worth considering a few important facts about this race. The first of those is that 5-7yo’s have pretty much bossed the event in recent times, having accounted for the last eight Galway Hurdle winners – each of whom also raced during the last six weeks (42 days).
Add to that, the fact each of the last 10 winners made the top six on their last National Hunt outing, along with winning exactly 2-4 hurdle races during their career, and a few interesting candidates begin to emerge.
One of those is the current 6/1 favourite, Ted Veale, who won the prestige County Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March (2m1f, good to soft), before being teed-up for this with a 1m4f win on the Flat three weeks ago. His trainer, the shrewd Tony Martin, looks to have him cherry-ripe for this prize and it’s hard to see him finishing out the frame.
Another with an ideal profile is Willie Mullins’, Pique Sous (7/1), who chased home Ted Veale by over 4l in that Flat race at Bellewstown three weeks ago – an outing that would have sharpened him up since winning a Grade 2 novice at Fairyhouse in April (2m, yielding). This 6yo handles most ground and the money that has arrived for him suggests he won’t be far away.
Mullins also has several other solid entries – none more so than the 10/1 shot, Make Your Mark, who arrives in top form having won a small 3m hurdle at Tipperary several weeks ago. Prior to that, he was a creditable fifth (of 22) and fourth (of 23) in two valuable handicap hurdles at Punchestown and Cheltenham, suggesting he has the form for this type of race.
But what of that man, Dermot Weld, who likes nothing more than to send out a big-race winner, which could be likely via his, Rock Critic (7/1), who is one of the least exposed in the field, but has a 177-day absence to overcome since beating Seabass over hurdles at Fairyhouse (2m, heavy). With a record of 2-2 over hurdles, though, he could be anything.
Punters will know a bit more about Missunited (8/1), whose hurdle record stands at 3-6, and was a novice hurdler winner here at Galway only last September (2m2f, soft). A Grade 3 winner since, he arrives fit following several Flat outings and makes each-way appeal at 8/1.
But, what of those available at double-figure odds, well there are several interesting runners, including Far Away So Close (20/1), who has been seen more over chases over the last few years, but has some top-class hurdle form to his name. He is also trained Paul Nolan – a man who won this valuable prize three times since 2002, which adds some value to his 20/1 odds.
Then there is the in-form Sea Lord (12/1), who won the Listed Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen a few weeks back (2m1f, good) – his fourth consecutive victory over hurdles. He is improving fast and therefore gets the vote, along with Ted Veale (6/1), in what looks a mouth-watering renewal of the Galway Hurdle.