Baraweez to put home brigade to sword in Galway’s Topaz Sprint

Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison relies on the local knowledge of Colm O’Donoghue

Just one cross-channel-trained horse has ever won the Topaz Mile, and that was 35 years ago, but Baraweez could change that with a vengeance on day two of Galway with the help of Colm O'Donoghue's local knowledge.

All four raiders for the €115,000 feature will have home-based riders to guide them around Ballybrit including Jack’s Revenge, who will have Joseph O’Brien’s help in what is traditionally one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps of the season.

Just to reinforce the race's unpredictability Brendan Brackan turned it into a rout last year, but a repeat display by any of the 18 runners is unlikely this evening although the strong international element adds another intriguing layer to matters.

Brian Ellison’s forays to Ireland always have to be noted and the Yorkshire trainer scooped last season’s Curragh Cesarewitch, something that no doubt has encouraged him to send a group of horses to Galway this summer.


He has engaged Séamus Heffernan for the topweight Balty Boys and entrusted his other runner, Baraweez, to another proven Classic rider in Colm O’Donoghue.

Handful of rides

Proven on the big-race stage from Canada and the US to India and the UAE, it is a reflection of how competitive Ireland’s jockeys’ room is that since landing the Irish Oaks on Bracelet 10 days ago O’Donoghue has had just a handful of rides.

Back after a spell in Hong Kong last year, the Cork man has had only five winners in total this term although it’s typical of his association with Ballydoyle that one of them just happened to have been a Classic.

Bracelet was a timely reminder of O’Donoghue’s abilities and Ellison has snapped up the services of a rider who won today’s race under its old McDonagh title on the 20/1 Sheer Tenby 13 years ago.

Baraweez has had five runs for his trainer this year, winning twice, with the most impressive of those significantly being at this trip at Musselburgh last month. He was subsequently first past the post at Newcastle only to be disqualified and Balty Boys’ participation ensures he races off an attractive racing weight.

Kevin Ryan's veteran Pintura is a winner around the track while bottom-weight Maskoon is an eye-caching runner for Kevin Prendergast who has won the race three times since the turn of the millennium, including with Vastonea a couple of years ago. But Baraweez has decent claims to follow in the 1979 footsteps of Majestic Nurse.

The roll-of-honour for the juvenile fillies maiden was impressive before the subsequent Oaks runner-up Tarfasha won it last year and it potentially looks set to be another clash between Dermot Weld and Aidan O'Brien today. In the last eight years, Weld has won it five times and O'Brien three. The Ballydoyle team throw a trio of typically well-bred types at it and Joseph O'Brien is on a Galileo newcomer in Together Forever.

Weld's decision, though, to send Chinese Light to Galway for a debut looks significant. Weld's Antique Platinum, with the aid of a first-time visor also looks one to note in the three-year-old maiden, while Hidden Universe ran encouragingly enough last time to suggest he can take advantage of a significant drop in the ratings for the two-mile handicap.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column