It's six years since Paul Townend burst on the scene when winning the Guinness Galway Hurdle on Indian Pace and the former champion jockey will be looking for a repeat victory in next week's €250,000 festival feature.
With Ruby Walsh on the injury sidelines, Townend is on call for the all-powerful Willie Mullins yard at Ballybrit, a track that holds happy memories for the rider.
Townend was just 17 when Indian Pace won the Galway Hurdle in 2008. Only three years later he was champion jockey and major victories also include the 2011 Tote Galway Plate on Blazing Tempo.
His most significant ride next week looks like being the hot-Galway Hurdle favourite Pique Sous and Townend said yesterday: “I’m looking forward to the ride. He seems to be in very good form, and while you can’t be confident in a race like the Galway Hurdle, we hope he has a very good chance.”
Dermot Weld’s status as the undisputed “King of Ballybrit” is emphasised by an offer of just 6-4 from Paddy Power for the trainer having 14 or more winners next week.
Weld was crowned leading trainer for a 27th time last year when he saddled 11 winners but his best tally came in 2011 when responsible for a remarkable 17 winners. A year later he rattled off nine victories.
“It’s quite amazing he is only 4-1 to have a winner on every single day of the extravaganza,” a spokesman for Powers said.
Brian Ellison will hardly have Weld's strength in depth at Galway but the English trainer is set to unveil some big-race hopes of his own at Ballybrit.
Streets of Newyork is being prepared for a crack at Monday’s big amateur prize, the Connacht Hotel Handicap, while Batty Boys could go in Tuesday’s Topaz Mile.
Saptapadi is a possible for Friday’s €100,000 Guinness Handicap.
A spokesman for the horses owners, Koo’s Racing Club, said yesterday: “It will be great to have three runners but the trip will revolve around Streets Of Newyork. He would be our best chance of a winner and I think he’ll show a good level of improvement for the step up in trip. Based on his bumper form when trained in Ireland we think he’ll get two miles on the level.”
Kristian Strangeway added: "It would be great for one of them just to be competitive but winning one would be absolutely brilliant."