Ground conditions make selections all the more difficult
6.50 Ted Veale (pictured, above)
8.20 Another Cyclone
5.45 Hash Brown
Galway is a meeting that covers all angles like few other racing Festivals as it covers, glitz, glamour, the high class horses to the more moderate ones, the richest of owners to the biggest of syndicates and rain or shine I'm sure it is going to be another fantastic week at Ballybrit.
We will have to thread with caution at the start of this week however, because the rain has come and threatened to throw up some funny results over the first couple of days.
Unfortunately there was plenty of rain around over the weekend and Galway got 16mm of it on Saturday night into Sunday morning and it won't be until after we see a couple of races this evening until we know the full effect of that but it's something worth noting.
So many people come to Galway and pretty much back Dermot Weld blind and I'm sure they've gone home with their pockets bulging more often than not, however even Dermot Weld is sending out warning signals that he may not have the same calibre of horses this year as in previous seasons and even that it may be time for someone else to take his crown as the leading trainer over the seven-days.
I'm still not sure about that one and I probably would be surprised if he doesn't train more winners than anyone else this week but with his team said to be down in numbers and the ground looking likely to be against them for the first few days at least, maybe it will open the door for others to get in on the winners.
I have been very fortunate in my career to have ridden winners of some very good races but along with the Champion Bumper at Punchestown, another race high on my bucket list is the big amateur handicap on the opening day of Galway and in Wood Breizh I'd say I have my best chance yet.
Again, you are looking for horses that will handle the rain softened conditions and Ted Veale is probably the most adaptable in terms of the ground so I make him the one to beat for Tony Martin and Stevie Clements, but Wood Breizh is a nice ride to have and I'm looking forward to it.
The draw can often be key to this race and I would have loved to have been drawn a bit lower than 15, whereas Ted Veale is in 3 and Gordon Elliott's Eshtiaal is in 1 but hopefully we'll get a good position early in the race and we'll see how it pans out after that.
In Wood Breizh and Whiteout, who Patrick rides, Willie Mullins has two good chances and whatever finishes in front of Ted Veale will have ran a good race I'd say.
I ride Be My Sea in the bumper for James Leavey in the concluding bumper and while there will be no easy race to win at Galway, I don't think this is the strongest of bumpers and hopefully we can run into a place. Another Cyclone is probably the one to beat.
The cards are nicely mixed up between flat and jumps for the week and today starts with two jump races with Bachasson my pick in the first race for Willie and Ruby after a nice introduction at Sligo.
Tomorrow the Topaz Galway Mile is the big race and I find it hard to split Aussie Valentine and Unsinkable but I'm just going to go with the in-form trainer Ger Lyons to shade it with Unsinkable.
This horse was a winner at Navan earlier in the season and has ran with credit on both occasions since that in good company at Cork and back at Navan and I think there is a big handicap like this in him and this will hopefully be it.
Obviously this is going to be a big week for Barry Gergathy with his new association as first jockey to JP McManus and I think Hash Brown in tomorrow's Latin Quarter Beginners Chase could be a nice early winner in the week for him and Michael Hourigan.