HRI to keep Galway Festival as seven-day meeting

Race days will be either Flat or National Hunt during this year’s event at Ballybrit

Horse Racing Ireland has announced the Galway Festival will remain a seven-day meeting on its original dates this year.

However, there will be significant changes to the traditional race programme, with the opening two days to host Flat races only, while the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday cards will be all National Hunt.

Scheduled to begin on July 27th, the meeting will conclude with two all-Flat cards. The Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle will be run on the Wednesday and Thursday as normal.

The revised fixture list for July features 47 meetings, three more than in the original schedule. In recognition of the increased workload, there will now be three days – up from two – on which no racing takes place during the month.

HRI's director of racing Jason Morris said: "We recognise that there will be a large demand for opportunities to run and our aim is to provide all Flat horses with their first run as quickly as possible following the resumption of racing by offering a balanced programme across all age groups, distances and categories. There will be 53 Flat meetings up to the end of July with this objective in mind.

“There will also be 22 National Hunt fixtures programmed between June 22nd and the end of July, compared to the equivalent of 17 meetings in the same period last year, to cater for the demands of the jumps horse population.

“There will be eight-race cards run at every opportunity where stable capacity allows, with the protocols requiring one stable per horse for hygiene reasons.”

Meanwhile, Aidan Fogarty is looking forward to a four-year-old campaign with his high-class filly Forever In Dreams, starting at Naas when racing resumes on June 8th.

The Woodlands Stakes will be the target on the opening afternoon for the daughter of Dream Ahead, before what will be a third trip to Royal Ascot – this year for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

Fogarty rightly has fond memories of his visits to Ascot with his stable star, who was beaten less than two lengths when seventh in the Queen Mary two years ago and found only Advertise too good in the Commonwealth Cup 12 months ago.

Owned by the Phoenix Ladies Syndicate, she finished her season with another fine Ascot outing, finishing third in the Qipco British Champions Sprint.

The Co Tipperary trainer said: “She’ll go for the Listed race at Naas, she’s in great form and looks a better this year even than she did last year – she’s got very strong and has filled out. She looks really well.

“She’ll probably go to that race on the 8th and then hopefully to the Diamond Jubilee. She seems to like Ascot – probably her three best races have been there.

“If she improves a little bit from three to four, you’d be hoping she could get her head in front in a Group One somewhere along the line.”

A trip to the inaugural Saudi Cup meeting in February had been mooted, but ultimately was shelved.

Fogarty explained: “Between us all we had a chat and kind of went off the idea, we were just afraid the travelling and everything might ruin her whole year. She’s only a filly at the end of the day and we were just afraid it would take too much out of her.

“There was a lot of travelling involved and she’d have been away from home for a good bit.

“She seems to go on most ground, she’s probably best with a little ease maybe, good to soft would maybe be best for her you’d think.

“Hopefully she stays in one piece for the year and she might pick up a Group One along the way. That’s the dream anyway.”

On riding plans, he added: "We were hoping to get Jamie Spencer to ride her for the year, but with this quarantine in Ireland we don't really know. We'll have to get an Irish-based jockey while we're in Ireland and see then what happens.

“As long as the racing is going, we’ll live with whatever we have to. She’s not a complicated ride anyway, she’s straightforward enough.”

Fogarty is also set to be represented at Naas by Wheels On Fire, whose sole outing for the yard to date after moving from France resulted in a third place to A’Ali in the Flying Childers Stakes at Doncaster in September.

And like Forever In Dreams, he has Royal Ascot ambitions.

He runs in the colours of Theresa Marnane, and Fogarty said: "He'll go for three-year-old Listed race at Naas. He's turned inside out – he was a backward two-year-old and is a lovely, big, good-looking horse now.

“He did a bit of work on Wednesday and worked really well, so hopefully he’ll run well and we might go for the Commonwealth Cup.

"He's some good form, he led the Simon Crisford horse 100 yards from the finish in the Flying Childers and looks like he's improved a good bit from two to three.

“He’ll go on really good ground, he likes to hear his hooves rattle.”

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