Clondaw Warrior joint topweight for double bid in Galway Hurdle
Sandymount Duke on course to give Harrington another ‘first’ in Galway Plate
Ruby Walsh celebrates Clondaw Warrior’s victory in the Galway Hurdle last year at Ballybrit. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
The Willie Mullins-trained star secured a memorable success in Ireland’s richest hurdle race a year ago under a vintage Ruby Walsh ride.
The winning ‘Act D Wagg’ syndicate includes the champion jockey’s wife, Gillian, and Clondaw Warrior is in line tackle next week’s festival feature once again, topping a list of 40 after Monday’s entry stage along with the cross-channel-trained John Constable.
However, just one horse during over 100 years of Galway Hurdle history has ever successfully defended the title – Pinch Hitter in 1982-83.
Clondaw Warrior’s trainer Willie Mullins has a total of seven entries in the Galway Hurdle with Renneti and Ivan Grozny also towards the top of the handicap.
Mullins has kept open the option of running his Grade One-winning mare Airlie Beach who currently has 10.10 in the handicap, the same as his 2015 runner-up Max Dynamite.
That horse went on to become a leading stayer on the flat and finished runner -up in the 2015 Melbourne Cup. However he hasn’t run since last year’s Ascot Gold Cup.
Another former winner back in the Galway Hurdle mix is the 2014 hero Thomas Edison who is one of seven options for Tony Martin.
“Thomas Edison and Pyromaniac will be the two, I’d say. I was happy with Thomas Edison the other day at Tipperary. He [Pyromaniac] is a better horse on the flat but we might let him have a go at the Hurdle,” said the Co Meath trainer.
Pyromaniac dominated the run-up to last year’s big race when only a judicial review granted by the High Court three days beforehand allowed him line up.
A stay was put on a 42-day ban confirmed by a Turf Club Referrals Committee hearing the previous week. Pyromaniac ultimately finished out of the money. The matter was finally resolved in January with no penalties applied to the horse or to Martin.
Half a dozen cross-channel hopefuls remain in this year’s race including the joint-topweight John Constable and the JP McManus owned Project Bluebook, a Grade Two winner at Fairyhouse’s Easter festival.
Jessica Harrington won the Galway Hurdle in 1994 with Oh So Grumpy and her sole entry this time is Light That. However the in-form trainer anticipates being well represented across both codes next week.
“Rock The World will run in a handicap. Mr Fiftyone will run in a handicap while Don’t Touch It will run in a novice two-mile graded race which he qualifies for. I’ll have some for the hurdle races and a good few for the flat in the good handicaps,” she reported.
Harrington also confirmed Sandymount Duke as on target to try and give her a first success in next Wednesday’s €250,000 Tote Galway Plate.
Harrington completed a set of notable ‘firsts’ over fences last season, particularly with Sizing John in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Our Duke in the Irish Grand National.
Sandymount Duke is a previous Galway festival winner and has been in prolific form this summer winning his last three starts including a flat contest at Leopardstown earlier this month.
After that the trainer indicated the horse’s owner, Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie Wood, could make the trip to Ballybrit to watch Sandymount Duke in action.
Last year’s third, Ballycasey, tops the Plate weights on 11.10 with the 2016 winner Lord Scoundrel on 11.6, the same weight as the 2014 hero Road To Riches.
“He had a problem last year after a bad fall. It transpired his spleen has moved over to the others side of his stomach but we didn’t find that out until the spring of this year. Since we got that sorted out he has turned inside out,” said Road To Riches’ trainer, Noel Meade.