Magnetic North could be the one to find winning pole in Galway feature

Sheila Lavery’s charge has advantage of stamina for tough finish at Ballybrit

Jessica Harrington is triple-handed in her pursuit of a first victory in the Galway Festival's day two feature.

The trio of Njord, Tauran Shaman and Onlyhuman give Harrington the strongest numerical hand in the Colm Quinn BMW Mile, which for some veteran Galway fans is still referenced to as the 'McDonogh.'

That was its official title back in 1994 when a then largely unknown Harrington first burst on the big-race scene with Oh So Grumpy’s memorable triumph in the Galway Hurdle.

Since then she has added the big amateur prize to her Ballybrit CV with Modem’s 2015 victory while the top class filly Alpine Star broke her maiden here last year at the expense of no less than the Irish Derby hero Santiago.


The latter is elite stuff but even in the context of Harrington’s rapid rise in recent years to become one of the country’s leading flat trainers, Tuesday evening’s big pot will not be insignificant.

Onlyhuman could finish only eighth in it a year ago when joint-favourite and will be joined by Njord, who is a course and distance winner that loves cut in the ground but is burdened by being drawn in 18th and final stall.

Despite the former double winner Riven Light proving such a car-park draw isn't insurmountable it's still hard to ignore how Harrington's number one rider Shane Foley has opted for Tauran Shaman.

The four-year-old has proved frustrating to follow this season including when third to Nebo at Cork last time. Tauran Shaman was also heavily backed for the Lincolnshire last month when not making the frame.

He sports first-time cheek pieces for this task and Foley’s perseverance has to be taken into account. However, whether or not Tauran Shaman is one to relish the renowned Galway hill is unclear.

In contrast Njord is proven on the track and on the ground while the same applies to last year’s winner Saltonstall and his bid to emulate Riven Light in 2017-18.

Magnetic North hasn’t won at Ballybrit but came up the hill well enough when third in last year’s Ahoonora Handicap at last year’s festival.

That was over seven furlongs, so as a proven winner at a mile and a quarter Sheila Lavery’s runner could be one to relish a stamina test in the closing stages.

Harrington also sticks first-time cheek pieces on Between Hills in the Listed Corrib Stakes although her other runner, Celestial Object, looks the one to beat.

The daughter of Galileo found only Lovlier too good for her at Killarney in the Cairn Rouge Stakes over a mile. Celestial Object goes over a furlong shorter here but with cut in the ground the final hill is likely to help bring her stamina into play.

The 2019 winner Surrounding again has the task of giving weight away all round and once more clashes with last year’s runner-up Titanium Sky.

Looking ahead Harrington will get a shot at breaking her duck in Wednesday’s Tote Galway Plate too when she saddles one of the topweights, Jett.

Robbie Power’s mount shares topweight with both Peregrine Run and The Storyteller in a final field of 22 runners guaranteed a run.

Gordon Elliott has a handful of those as he pursues a fourth win in five years in the historic handicap and also one of the three reserves waiting in the wings. Davy Russell is on the ante-post favourite Galvin.

Willie Mullins has also got six chances in the Plate, although it is his son Patrick who is on board Easy Game with champion jockey Paul Townend set to ride Royal Rendezvous.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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