Tandem can make successful return to festival
Walsh and Nicholls to strike again
Dermot Weld’s Tandem is well drawn in the middle next to Ballydoyle runner Fortify
As theories go, the one which states if you’re in doubt at Galway, back Weld, has been mauled with overuse through the years – something that still doesn’t prevent it from being hugely profitable for punters, as Tandem can prove yet again in tonight’s Topaz Mile.
The hugely competitive €115,000 Day Two feature has 18 starters, with half a dozen of them rated 100 plus, including an Aidan O’Brien hope, Fortify, that’s officially rated 114. That’s a mark to make the Ballydoyle runner competitive in Group races so the champion trainer’s decision to contest this race has to be significant.
Still, there’s no getting away from how it is nine years since a three-year-old has won here. And neither can anyone escape how the last time Fortify ran into Tandem, he came up short in a valuable handicap at Leopardstown.
That came just a dozen days ago when Tandem showed impressive strategic speed to grab the initiative and secure a decisive advantage over his fast-finishing rival. Fortify has run since and won easily at Naas, but that can be interpreted as a boost to the Weld runner as much as anything else.
Tandem drops back a furlong-and-a-half for this evening’s race but he won his maiden over the course and distance last year by 11 lengths. And he will relish better conditions compared to when he was widely believed in some circles to be something of a “good thing” for the Lincoln in March – only to post a no-show in the mud.
Leopardstown has been his only start since and for a horse that’s run just half-a-dozen times to date it’s reasonable to expect continual progress, certainly enough to negate a 9lb hike in the ratings for his last win.
A trio of cross-channel based horses make the journey and Pintura can boast proven Ballybrit form having finished runner-up in the race last year and subsequently winning here at the festival. Global Village is another raider with a shout but may not be best served by the draw.
In contrast, Tandem is parked right in the middle, next to Fortify. And in a race where a case can be made for any number of them, he also has the crucial name Weld next to his.
It’s five years since Oslot secured a memorable Galway Plate success for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh. However the former British champion trainer is back at Ballybrit today and hooks up with his ex-stable jockey for Woolcombe Folly in the six-runner conditions chase.
The English raider is the oldest in the race and hasn’t won since the end of 2010. But while Rathlin can boast current winning form, on official ratings Woolcombe Folly has plenty to spare and there was nothing regressive about the way he kept going for second in the Market Rasen Plate recently under a very big weight.
It also has to be significant that he’s at Galway at all since Nicholls can hardly be accused of a scatter-gun approach to his Irish raiders.
Walsh is on Shamar in the opening novice hurdle and this previously disappointing sort has looked a different proposition on fast ground, notching up wins at Cork and Killarney.
However, he has to concede weight and in the circumstances Henry De Bromhead’s Elegant Statesman, every inch an embryonic steeplechaser, could be an option.
The juvenile fillies maiden is an intriguing contest but the rely-on-Weld theory again looks the safest option with Tarfasha.
For a filly closely related to Galileo Rock and Sadler’s Rock, the slow early pace of her debut in a three-runner Leopardstown contest was hardly ideal. But she made the hotpot, Geoffrey Chaucer, pull out all the stops in the closing stages to get home and in a manner that suggests she should relish the final hill.
Sophies Echo surprised her trainer Tom Cleary by winning on her return to action at Naas and looks to have plenty going for her in the seven-furlong handicap, including a stall-two draw.
Busted Tycoon returns to flat action in the concluding two-mile handicap. However, she does so on the back of some impressive hurdles victories across the channel and a mark of 71 would appear to give her a big shout in this contest.