Punters’ fingers crossed for Chadic and Robbie McNamara

Former top jockey has high hopes of training the winner of Day One feature in Galway

Finian Maguire on board the Dermot Weld-trained Time To Inspire goes clear to win an amateur race by ten lengths at Ballybrit last year. Photograph: James Crombie

Finian Maguire on board the Dermot Weld-trained Time To Inspire goes clear to win an amateur race by ten lengths at Ballybrit last year. Photograph: James Crombie

 

Robbie McNamara knows sentiment counts for little up the famous Galway hill but that won’t stop Chadic being an overwhelming sentimental favourite for the Day One festival feature.

It is just over 15 months since McNamara was left paralysed from the waist down in a fall at Wexford but the 27-year-old former top amateur jockey has already enjoyed a resounding start to his new career as trainer with two winners on his first day at Cork last month.

Chadic earned a permanent place in McNamara’s heart – a first winner as the trainer’s first runner – on that occasion and he goes into this evening’s €80,000 Connacht Hotel Handicap with serious claims to securing a prize McNamara knows very well.

Renowned as something of an ‘Amateur Derby’ the Galway prize is coveted by all amateur jockeys and McNamara recorded back-to-back victories in 2008-09 on board Majestic Concorde and Ghimaar.

Dermot Weld trained both of those so McNamara will be well aware of the dangers posed by the Rosewell House pair in today’s highlight, topweight Zafayan and perhaps most intriguingly, Time To Inspire.

Great certainties

Time To Inspire has hardly caught the imagination in similar fashion to his brother but he did win an amateur race at last year’s festival by ten lengths under Finny Maguire who is set to team up with a horse sporting a first-time visor.

There was little encouragement in Time To Inspire’s sole start this season at the Curragh although he should strip much sharper for a race so close to Weld’s heart.

This is the race he famously he won as a 15-year-old rider on Ticonderoga 52 years ago, three more times on Spanner, and was last successful in with Midnight Music in 2012.

There is also a touch of history in how it is 23 years since Maguire’s father, Adrian, famously teamed up with Weld’s General Idea to land the Galway Plate.

Brian Ellison is always a dangerous cross-channel raider at Galway and supplies Always Resolute for the two mile prize while two of the country’s top amateurs, Patrick Mullins and Nina Carberry, won’t lack for motivation aboard Renneti and Synopsis respectively, having never won the race before.

Some watering has been taking place to maintain officially “good” ground for a festival that is expected to attract over 150,000 race fans over seven days with almost €15 million expected to be wagered on-course.

Perfect start

Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins looks to have outstanding prospects of getting the week off to a perfect start in the opening novice hurdle with his French import, Muthaza, winner of both her Irish starts at Bellewstown and Tramore.

However Right Honourable can continue Weld’s traditional dominance of the juvenile maiden after his eye-catching Leopardstown debut when hampered in the closing stages behind Intern and Drake Passage earlier this month.

Aidan O’Brien’s Courage Under Fire was also placed at Leopardstown just prior to Right Honourable but the ‘Weld Factor’ around Galway is hard to argue with in this race in particular.

First time blinkers on Heartful will sway many towards her in the seven furlong handicap although it is another Weld filly, Baliyka, who could be a better option in the mile and a half handicap.

Beckwith Star can earn himself a place in many festival hearts should he pull of a hat-trick of wins in the first handicap hurdle of the week.

Henry De Bromhead’s topweight faces a major task but can hardly be discounted.

Sarwistan has his first handicap start in this and it will be interesting if he gives an indication of a return to winning form for the Tony Martin team.

Camlann is lurking at the bottom of the weights. His only start since Christmas yielded a smooth win on the flat at Fairyhouse recently.

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