Pacific Heights looks the pick in Ahonoora Handicap at Galway

Tony Martin has emerged as a festival stalwart and his Ted Veale can open chasing account tomorrow

Some Galway trends might fluctuate but Pacific Heights can successfully prove in this weekend’s festival highlight how a good draw steadfastly remains vital around Ballybrit.

Yorkshire trainer Brian Ellison saddles both Pacific Heights and Tuesday's Topaz Mile third Baraweez in tomorrow's €100,000 Ahonoora Handicap where the cross-channel challenge will also contain Jack's Revenge, also behind Vastonea earlier this week.

Pacific Heights, though, has been kept solely for a race that has been rewarding for British raiders in recent years and crucially Chris Hayes’s mount has secured a stall-one draw next to the rail.

Many Galway veterans automatically dismiss horses with double-digit draws over this seven-furlong course, something both of Pacific Heights' compatriots have been landed with, as well as Dermot Weld's Sparkle Factor. Last year's winner, Northern Rocked, is in box two but his best form is usually on much softer ground than this. Should Pacific Heights break well, he is a proven winner around a tight track like Chester and looks capable of saving every inch before striking up the hill.


With decent weekend weather forecast for the west, the final two dates of the most important festival of the year should conclude a week that has seen an encouraging rally, both in terms of attendance figures and a consequent upturn in betting.

Festival stalwart

Tony Martin’s emergence as a festival stalwart has been confirmed with a pair of big-race victories courtesy of Thomas Edison and Quick Jack, something which no doubt will only further confidence in

Ted Veale’s

chances of finally breaking his duck over fences tomorrow, and also possibly in Pyromaniac’s chance in a mile and a half handicap.

What's usually a relatively humdrum opportunity hurdle that opens tomorrow's card though looks intriguing this time with Pacelli Road, a 16/1 winner on the flat last month, and representing JP McManus and Dermot Weld, up against an intriguing Martin starter in Spacious Sky who gets almost a stone from his rival.

Spacious Sky didn't get a clear run behind Quick Jack on Monday but still ran a fine race to be fourth in the big amateur event and will have the Plate-winning rider Shane Shortall on his back, as well as first-time cheek-pieces.

This afternoon's feature is the €45,000 Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle and Dermot Weld's status as the unchallenged festival mainstay can be further emphasised by Spryt as well as Silwana on the flat while Call Vinnie's bumper claims today are probably only trumped by his stable companion Windsor Park's for tomorrow's finale.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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