Dermot Weld putting finishing touches to his Galway Festival team

‘King of Ballybrit’ expects the numerical strength of his challenge to be reduced this year

Dermot Weld: “Hissabaat will hopefully line up in the big hurdle. Tandem is entered too but I don’t think he’ll get in.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Dermot Weld: “Hissabaat will hopefully line up in the big hurdle. Tandem is entered too but I don’t think he’ll get in.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Dermot Weld has famously dominated Galway for decades but the legendary trainer insists his team’s numerical strength-in-depth for next week’s eagerly-anticipated festival will be down on other years.

Galway’s leading trainer on 28 previous occasions also expects that champion jockey Pat Smullen could be diverted to Goodwood on a couple of days next week including to ride Carla Bianca in the Group One Nassau Stakes.

“That is something we are looking at for her. Silwana is also a possible for the Lillie Langtry Stakes (a Group Three on Thursday week) and if they run, Pat will go to Goodwood to ride them,” Weld said.

Nevertheless the power of the Rosewell House team will continue to focus most minds at Galway and the renowned ‘King of Ballybrit’ is putting the finishing touches to his likely festival team and hoping for a dry weather outlook.

“Ideally we don’t want much rain because good ground will be perfect. The numbers we send will depend on the ground obviously but I do expect them to be down this year.

“The first reason for that is I’ve very few jumpers these days, only four or five, and they’re really dual-purpose horses. A couple of them will go to Galway, and Hissabaat will hopefully line up in the big hurdle. Tandem is entered too but I don’t think he’ll get in.

“And the second reason is we’ve had a very successful spring and summer so far, winning lots of races, and the result is we’ve used up a lot of ammunition,” said Weld.

Trainer award

Four of those victories came in National Hunt races, three over hurdles and one over fences. His sole National Hunt winner last year was Windsor Park in a bumper.

Ground conditions at Galway are currently “good to yielding” on the National Hunt track and “yielding” over the flat course with authorities hopeful of some improvement before the festival starts on Monday.

“The forecast is not too bad with very little rain expected for the rest of this week,” said Galway general manager, John Moloney. “It’s too early to predict about next week but from what we’re told we hope the decent weather might continue into it.”

After Galway, Weld’s Group One focus could also take in Deauville’s Prix Maurice De Gheest early next month with his smart sprinter Mustajeeb, although plans are dependent on owner Sheikh Hamdan who could also take in the French prize with his star three year old Muharaar.

Brilliant sprinter

The Maurice de Gheest is definitely on Gordon Lord Byron’s agenda despite his Minstrel Stakes defeat to Home Of The Brave at the Curragh on Sunday.

“For some reason he just couldn’t get traction on that ground. He ran a good race. It’s hard to give 12lb away to a decent horse and he was giving 5lb to a horse rated 111 in third (Sovereign Debt). I don’t know whether the ground was tacky or what, but he didn’t like it and it’s just one of those things,” said his trainer Tom Hogan.

“We’ll head on to the Prix Maurice de Gheest now and then come back for the Haydock Sprint Cup. After that he’ll follow the same path as last year,” he added.

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