British horses target big Galway Hurdle prize

Hunters Call and Fair Mountain among 38 entries for next week’s big race at Ballybrit

The Guinness Galway Hurdle has proved an attractive target for British raiders over the years and the coronavirus pandemic may not prevent another cross-channel tilt at the Ballybrit highlight next week.

A pair of British trained horses feature among 38 entries for the big hurdle prize at the renowned Galway festival which will take place behind closed doors.

Despite travel restrictions due to Covid-19 both the Olly Murphy trained Hunters Call and Dan Skelton's Fair Mountain are still in line to take up the option of travelling west.

The 14-day isolation period when entering Ireland has seen a slide in the numbers of overseas based runners although A'ali won the Group Two Sapphire Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday for Ed and Simon Crisford.


The last British trained winner of the Galway Hurdle was Donald McCain’s Overturn a decade ago. Prior to him there were also cross-channel wins for Sagaman in 1991 and Rushmoor in 1986.

Next week’s other big €200,000 pot, the Tote Galway Plate, will be ‘domestic only’ after 35 entries were left in on Monday when weights were released. The trio of Jett, Peregrine Run and The Storyteller top the weights.

The Storyteller is one of nine entries left in by trainer Gordon Elliott who has won the Plate three times in the last four years. He can also call on the high-class Mengli Khan and Three Musketeers, runner up in the Midlands National last time.

It is nine years since Elliott's great rival, Willie Mullins, last won the Plate and Easy Game is one of half a dozen options he has for next Wednesday's race.

Galway's chief executive Michael Moloney said on Monday: "We are delighted to be racing this year for what will be a very different Galway races.

“We have two huge pots of €200,000 each for the Tote Galway Plate and the Guinness Galway Hurdle and it’s great to see these races supported with strong entries, especially considering we cannot welcome owners.

“It’s hard to believe we are only a week away.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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