Pique Sous primed for Galway Hurdle bid
Ascot winner also at the forefront of the betting for York’s Ebor on August 23rd
Ryan Moore guiding Pique Sous to victory in the e Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
Bookmakers are already running for cover ahead of next week’s festival at Ballybrit with Willie Mullins’s Pique Sous on target to try and secure the opening leg of an audacious cross-code double in the Guinness Galway Hurdle.
Pulled up in last year’s renewal of Europe’s richest handicap hurdle, Pique Sous has looked a transformed character on the flat since then, including when winning at Royal Ascot last month, a victory that has also put him at the forefront of betting for York’s Ebor on August 23.
They grey hasn’t run over flights for a year but the release of the big-race Galway weights yesterday confirmed he is still on the same handicap mark as 2013 and bookmakers have already made him a clear 4-1 favourite to pick up what would be an unprecedented big-race double.
A spokesman for Pique Sous’ owners, the Supreme Racing Club confirmed yesterday that Mullins has given the horse a green light to return to hurdling before attempting to continue his climb up the flat rankings at York next month.
“It’s very exciting to have a horse who is favourite for Europe’s richest handicap hurdle and the richest handicap in Europe. The plan is to go to Galway and then run in the Ebor, as long as the ground is right,” said Steve Massey.
A total of 51 horses remain in the Galway Hurdle, including 16 from Britain, and seven of the top ten rated are from across-channel. John Ferguson, who is based near Newmarket, has left in six entries including the topweight, Purple Bay. At present, Pique Sous is weighted on 10.8, an eye-catching National Hunt weight for a horse rated 105 on the flat. Four-timer
Kid Cassidy, now in Christy Roche’s yard, tops the weights for the Tote Galway Plate next week, followed by The Romford Pele from Rebecca Curtis’s stable in Wales while one of the ante-post favourites, Art Of Logistics, is currently scheduled to carry 10.13. Spring Heeled, winner of the Kim Muir at Cheltenham last March, is on 11.4 and remains in contention to provide Jim Culloty and owner, Dr Ronan Lambe with another big-race success.
Co Meath-based trainer Gordon Elliott has saddled 11 winners this month, including a four-timer at Downpatrick eight days ago, and could secure a 100 per cent success-rate from the three runners he sends to Ballinrobe this evening.
Swantykay and IC Gold were two of the four Downpatrick winners last week and both look to have good chances of following up in handicap hurdles today. IC Gold is 9lbs higher in the ratings for following up a point to point success in May but Elliott’s confident prediction last week that she will win again can prove accurate.
Riverside City ultimately won only narrowly at Gowran last month but the JP McManus owned horse looked likely to improve significantly from that outing and is rated to win the conditions hurdle.
McManus’s colours will be carried by the hurdling newcomer Rae’s Creek in the opener and this one has proven course form having scored in a flat maiden here in May.
Elishpour though sets a fair benchmark with a mark of 114 and has four spins over flights under his belt, including a decent run behind Indian Icon at Killarney in May. Experience can swing it his way.
Cebuano is having just a third start over hurdles at the age of nine but is an admirably tough flat performer that could out-fight Little Rocky in the second maiden.