Donnacha O’Brien can steer Stipulate to final day glory in Galway

Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison bidding for a third win in a row in the Ahonoora Handicap

Brian Ellison has already had a winner over hurdles at Galway this week so his topweight for today's handicap feature, Totalize, merits respect. However it is the Yorkshire trainer's four-pronged assault on tomorrow's €100,000 Ahonoora Handicap which will have locals especially worried.

Ellison's Baraweez is seeking a rare three-in-a-row in the final day festival highlight and he's joined by three stable companions who like Baraweez have all run already at Ballybrit this week.

Top Notch Tonto had Stipulate (fourth) and Baraweez (fifth) behind him when runner -up to Creggs Pipes in Tuesday’s big mile handicap and the trio are joined by Dream Walker who was third over the course and distance to Total Demolition on Thursday.

Wide draw

The draw is always important over Galway’s seven furlongs and it looks like Stipulate has done best of the Ellison quartet in stall three of 16. Top Notch Tonto is in 15 and while Baraweez won from a wide draw two years ago it could be asking a lot to expect him to do the same from 14 this time.


Last year's runner-up Pintura is back for another crack at the race too, and has Tom Queally on his back, but the most significant jockey booking could be Donnacha O'Brien for Stipulate.

Ellison employed him for Baraweez last year and from an inside draw O’Brien can steer the English raider to success.

O'Brien also looks entitled to fancy his chances in Saturday's Premier Nursery on board Sir Edwin Landseer while Saturday's opener sees Ruby Walsh booked for the Robbie McNamara-trained Rogue Agent.

The ex-Andre Fabre trained import is having a first start in over 15 months but the jockey booking looks significant in the context of McNamara’s already publicly stated confidence in the horse.

Clondaw Warrior’s victory on Thursday has been the highlight of a vintage festival for Walsh who comes in for the ride on the Plate fourth Devils Bride in Sunday’s handicap chase now that Bryan Cooper has been ruled out for up to a month with injury.

The Gigginstown team have turned to Davy Russell for the beaten Plate favourite Road To Riches who makes a quick return to action in a conditions chase after losing a shoe in Wednesday's big race.

Alelchi Inois found only Lord Scoundrel too good in the Plate and if that race hasn't taken too much out of him he can go one better now under Walsh.

Few have come up the final hill to more effect than Sea Light did when only just failing to catch Plain Talking on Wednesday. Stretching him out to three miles on Sunday should give the Charles Byrnes runner a good chance of securing compensation.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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