Galway Races 2015: Rawnaq can serve up a plate
The tote.com Galway Plate is one of the most prestigious races of the Irish racing calendar and after supplying us with subsequent Grade One winners for the previous two seasons, in Carlingford Lough and Road To Riches, it will be interesting to see what can step up to the mark in this year's renewal.
This year's race sees a Grade One winner top the weights, with 2014 Punchestown Gold Cup winner Boston Bob looking to give Willie Mullins a second win in the race, but conceding weight al around will be tough for the 10-year-old who was well adrift in both the Punchestown and Cheltenham Gold Cups earlier in the year.
There is also a Grade One winning hurdler in the field with Herald Champion Novice Hurlde winner Alderwood lining up for 2012 winning trainer Tom Mullins and owner JP McManus. While the 11-year-old is capable of running a big race here on his day, he'd have to find a bit more than his Irish National showing to get into contention on this occasion. It is a race that only has produced four winning favourites since Grimes in 2001 and in the same period only one horse carrying more than 11 stone has managed to get to the top of the famous hill and pass the finishing line in front, that horse being the Galway specialist Ansar when he won his second plate in 2005 with 11st 11lbs on his back.
That makes the task at hand a difficult one for those near the top of the field but an eight-year-old who might just be getting into the race off a nice weight and with a big part to play is the Matthew Smith-trained Rawnaq.
A runner-up at Galway back in 2012 on the Flat, Rawnaq was seventh and eleventh in the last two runnings of the Galway Hurdle but fences have brought out more from the son of Azamour, who had Gilgamboa behind him when winning the Grade Two Flyingbolt Chase at Navan during the winter.
In a Grade One at Aintree in April, it was too early to say how he would have got on in such company before he fell. It was a race in which he probably didn't travel all that well, but he was still very much in touch. But over 2m6f tomorrow, on easier ground than it was at Aintree that day, he should be able to travel a lot better and get into a good rhythm throughout the race.
Others that could also be heavily involved in the business end include the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World, who was second behind only Thunder And Roses in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse, and he could put up a bold showing, while Letter Of Credit, at a big price possibly, shouldn't be easily discounted from calculations.
We pointed out yesterday just how good the quality on show at Galway is and the calibre of horse needed to win, and in tomorrow's opening race Cheltenham Bumper winner Silver Concorde will bid to open his account over hurdles in the Tote €100,000 Pick 6 Guarantee Maiden Hurdle.
Dermot Weld's seven-year-old didn't make his hurdling debut until Leopardstown at Christmas and after finishing second on that occasion he stepped up to contest the Grade One Deloitte Hurdle there in February. With those two runs under his belt over hurdles and a winning return to action at Killarney on the level earlier in the month, Silver Concorde should have no problems in getting favourite backers off to a winning start on day three.
Sticking with Weld and the chances of First Figaro look to be strong in tomorrow's Bet On All UK Racing With Tote Amateur Maiden.
He was a runner-up in two bumpers on his first two starts, the second of those coming at the Punchestown Festival behind the highly regarded Champers On Ice. Despite the drop in trip, he is picked to come out on top in a race that Willie and Patrick Mullins have teamed up in to good success in recent years, but the champion trainer has no runner in this year's renewal.
Again, it is hard to look beyond the Rosewell House outfit in the concluding maiden over a mile, despite Weld's pre-Festival warnings that he may not have as strong a team headed to Ballybrit this year.
Even at his strongest, the start of the week has always been his most fruitful part of the meeting and New Agenda is the pick in the day three finale.
Third on debut over 10 furlongs, he drops back to an extended mile here.
But with the two in front of him that day, Outspoken and Salthouse, both coming out and winning since, as well as fourth place Botany Bay winning the Ulster Derby, and even the fifth Swordfight also winning a maiden, the form could hardly have a stronger look.
And New Agenda is probably the best bet of the day.
Elsewhere on the card, last Friday's Down Royal winner Annagh Haven gets the vote to make a quick winning reappearance in the Download The Tote Mobile App Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Mick Mulvany's charge hasn't run over hurdles since March and has dropped a few pounds in the handicap since then too and hopefully Friday's win on the level can reignite her form over sticks as well.
Another recent winner appearing tomorrow at Galway is the Pat Flynn-trained Knights Templar who stayed on well to win an apprentice race at Leopardstown and can oblige again in the It Pays To Bet With Tote Handicap.
Cronin's Choice: Galway Wednesday
3.00: Silver Concorde
3.35: Annagh Haven
4.10: Chief Of Panama
4.45: First Figaro
6.05: Knights Templar
7.10: New Agenda