Strong cross-channel element to weekend Galway festival action
Nicky Henderson makes rare raid on Ballybrit with Theinval
Theinval under jockey Jeremiah McGrath riding clear to win The Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle at Aintree in 2015. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
There is a strong cross-channel element to the weekend action as the Galway festival winds up its 150-year celebrations.
The British-based pair of Project Bluebook and Didtheyleaveuoutto are among a huge nine-strong JP McManus team lining up for Saturday’s Galway Shopping Centre Handicap Hurdle.
Sunday’s final festival programme sees a dozen cross-channel declarations all told, although the Ballybrit stalwart Baraweez is just second reserve for the Ahonoora Handicap he won in both 2014 and 2015.
Those wins are part of a five-year run of success for British-trained horses in the €120,000 final day festival feature.
It’s little surprise then there’s a handful of visiting horses guaranteed a run including Richard Hannon’s Magical Wish. Hannon also saddles Mensen Ernst in the preceding two-year-old race for Middleham Park Racing.
Henderson is a rare visitor to Ballybrit although he did send Snake Eyes to run in the Galway Hurdle four years ago.
He had a number of options for Theinval this week including Sunday’s handicap chase which in trip-terms might have been a better profile fit for the nine-year-old.
So the fact Henderson is stretching him out for a conditions event instead looks significant.
A Toi Phil, Valseur Lido, and Yorkhill all lined up in Wednesday’s Plate and did nothing to suggest their best days are in the past.
Saturday’s feature is notable for McManus having nine of the 20 runners while four others represent Willie Mullins.
They include the big amateur race winner Great White Shark who won under Jody Townend on Monday.
Her brother Paul takes over now on a mare who’s won two of her five starts to date over flights.
Mullins has won this race three times in the last four years but not always with his apparent number one and a stronger pace than Monday’s feature over this trip could suit the lightly weighted outsider Great Tango.
Mullins has affirmed his status as the new ‘King of Ballybrit’ this week although Dermot Weld can provide a reminder of his former dominance with Time Tunnel on Saturday.
The Juddmonte filly came within a whisker of giving Frankie Dettori a winner on his trip to Killarney last month.
Her conqueror that day, Tauran Shana, won a handicap off a mark of 90 earlier this week and Time Tunnel has got a valuable inside draw in the extended mile maiden.
One Cool Poet has won twice this week already but will have to defy a 12lb hike in the rating if he’s to pull off a rare festival hat-trick on Saturday.
The Tony Martin-trained Busted Tycoon won three times, and under three different jockeys, at the 2013 festival.