Dermot Weld indicates he anticipates sending smaller team than usual to Galway races
An attendance figure of over 150,000 is being anticipated for festival at the end of this month
Dermot Weld: will not have as many runners as ususal at Ballybrit.
An attendance figure of over 150,000 is being anticipated for the Galway Festival at the end of this month with most punters eagerly expecting another bumper week for Dermot Weld although significantly the “King of Ballybrit” indicated yesterday he anticipates sending a smaller team than usual to the world-famous meeting.
Weld broke all records in 2012 with a remarkable tally of 17 winners, bringing his career total at Galway to an astounding 238. Yesterday the Galway authorities announced details of a €1.6 million festival prize-fund, with all 52 races sponsored and a €260,000 pot for the Guinness Hurdle which makes it the top National Hunt prize in the country.
However, it is in jump races that Weld feels he may be comparatively under-strength this year and the Curragh trainer stressed he will be concentrating overall on quality rather than quantity in just over three weeks time.
“It will be a smaller team. We’ve had less runners than usual anyway; we had very few over the Derby weekend for instance. And I have very few jumpers for Galway this year. At the National Hunt end we’ll have pretty little. So we’re going to be selective and hopefully we can be successful with those. But it will be quality over quantity this time,” he said.
Champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins will aim for another success in the Galway Plate this year and indicated the Irish Grand National runner-up, Away We Go, is a contender for the big chase.
“He’s on course to run in the Plate. He likes good ground and it has been the plan since Fairyhouse,” he said. “Security Breach is progressing nicely and won well recently at Gowran. We’ll aim him at the Hurdle.”
Weld’s high class three-year-old Big Break holds an entry in next week’s Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting but the trainer is instead easing up on the Juddmonte filly with an eye to an autumn campaign.
“Big Break in on a little break, if you’ll excuse the pun. She ran a good race in the Coronation at Ascot but the ground was just too firm,” he reported before giving a bulletin on the older star Sapphire, winner of last October’s Champion fillies and mares race at Ascot.
“Sapphire had a hold-up but is making progress although she probably won’t be seen until September. The aim will the Ascot race again which is now a Group One.”
Weld’s focus this evening will be on another older mare, when Along Came Casey tackles the shortest trip of her career in the Group Three feature at Fairyhouse.
The senior member of the nine-strong field in the Brownstown Stakes is a slightly surprising contender for the seven-furlong event, as Weld indicated after her Listed Glencairn Stakes win last time that he was figuring on upping her a furlong for the Meld Stakes later this month.
Instead Along Came Casey drops back a furlong but does so with her Glencairn form boosted significantly since the horse she had back in third at Leopardstown, Flying The Flag, won a Group Three at the Curragh last Friday.
This is no easy task with Willie McCreery saddling two, including the wide-drawn Ballyogan winner, Fiesolanna, while another proven Group Three winner is Lily’s Angel, and Snow Queen comes right into it on her Newmarket Guineas form.
Along with the English hope Sentaril it makes for an ultra-competitive heat but even allowing for ground conditions forecast to ease, Along Came Casey, who is from the family of the champion sprinter Stravinsky, can follow-through on the distance reduction.
John Oxx saddled his first juvenile runner of the season at the weekend and Tarabiyn looks a significant newcomer in the tonight’s opener considering he’s a son of Sinndar. Johnny Murtagh knows all about the former Derby and Arc hero and he can scupper Oxx’s hopes with Pillow, who made an encouraging debut at the track recently.
Oxx could have better luck in the 10-furlong conditions race where the well-bred Abu Nayef should leave the form of his sole start to date this term well behind. That Navan run came in May when the entire stable was under something of a cloud.