Drive Time can make amends for last year’s fall in lucrative Galway Hurdle
Trainer Willy Mullins gives him another crack, this time under Paul Townend, at the big pot
Trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Paul Townend will be hoping Drive Time can make up for last year’s disappointment
Drive Time is one of five Willie Mullins trained runners in the €260,000 festival feature, a quarter of the entire field, and Ruby Walsh has elected to side with one of the market leaders Pique Sous, hardly a surprising call considering his experience on Drive Time in last year’s renewal.
The partnership started well-backed 4-1 favourites but only made the fourth flight where Drive Time took a crashing fall, leaving Walsh with a broken ankle.
It didn’t look to leave any lasting impact on the horse however as a couple of months later he won impressively at Listowel on heavy ground.
Drive Time wasn’t seen again until Limerick in June when he ran an impressive comeback on the flat behind Caim Hill and it looks significant that Mullins is giving him another crack at the big pot.
In contrast Townend will always have a soft spot for the Galway Hurdle having first announced his arrival on the scene as a 17-year-old, winning it on Indian Pace in 2008.
The worry with Drive Time is that only last year’s runner -up Cause Of Causes is above him in the weights and possibly also that the usual relentless tempo of the Galway Hurdle may take him out of his comfort zone early on.
But there’s even more rain forecast for the west today which could inconvenience plenty of others, possibly including Pique Sous (and maybe even Tony Martin’s hugely fancied County Hurdle hero Ted Veale) and overall making it a real stamina test.
Ideally though Ted Veale wouldn’t want a deluge of rain impacting on the ground, a comment that also applies to Dermot Weld’s course stalwart Rock Critic.
But it certainly wouldn’t be a negative to Drive Time’s chance and for a horse that started favourite last year, there could be some each-way value in betting that he has a much happier festival experience this time.
The big support event this afternoon is the Listed Corrib Stakes which sees the two fillies that fought out a memorable finish last year, Lady Wingshot and Yellow Rosebud, return for another tussle.
On weights, Lady Rosebud holds a 5lb swing for being beaten just a head in 2012 and has form on a testing surface so should be a tough nut for the four three year olds lining up to crack.
The classic generation includes Sendmylovetorose, last year’s Cherry Hinton winner, who makes her first start of 2013, as well as Aidan O’Brien’s pair, Snow Queen and Hanky Panky, both behind Lady Lahar at Naas, and both relatively disappointing in their own ways recently.
The popular veteran Maundy Money is on a roll at the moment following wins at Roscommon and Killarney and is always a doughty competitor around Ballybrit. He is 8lbs higher for Killarney in the mile handicap so a value alternative could be Charlie Swan’s dual-purpose runner Foot Soldier, behind Aladdin’s Cave over hurdles here on Monday.
Rebel Fitz enjoyed his biggest success on this day last year and will be short-odds to make it three-in-a-row over fences when he lines up in the novice chase under Barry Geraghty. A 7lb hike for Shalaman’s win (via the stewards room) at Killarney may not stop Denis Hogan’s runner in the mile and a half handicap.