Galway Races 2015: Diakali is the pick to bridge the gap
Willie Mullins can end the long wait to win back Hurdle
When Willie Mullins last won the Guinness Galway Hurdle, the race was worth 45,000 Irish punts, the winning rider, David Casey, was still claiming 3lbs, Ireland were celebrating the gold medals won by Michelle Smith at the Olympic Games in Atlanta and Wexford were enjoying a summer that would eventually see them crowned All-Ireland hurling champions.
It was 1996 and it is fair to say the careers of Mullins and Smith both went in very different directions thereafter.Mullins had already enjoyed two winners at the Cheltenham Festival but when Mystical City held off the best efforts of Space Trucker by two and a half lengths as a pretty unheralded 20/1 shot, he was enjoying his biggest winner in Ireland to date.
Not even at that stage of his training career would we have expected to see 18 more winners of the race and none trained by the great man of Closutton but that is testament to how difficult it is to win a race now worth €300,000 and Ireland’s most lucrative.
The long wait, which the trainer looks intent on ending judging by the calibre and number of entries for the race, may well be over by 4.50pm tomorrow afternoon and it is the top weight Diakali that is picked to lead home the cavalry charge.
While horses rated high enough to carry 11st or more have a poor record in the Galway Plate, the Galway Hurdle isn’t quite as dooming for the classier types in the eyes of the handicapper.
Rebel Fitz, Overturn and, a bit further back, Quinze, are a few examples and hopefully Diakali can add to that list on what is set to be a very big day for his owner, Nick Peacock of Wicklow Bloodstock.
While Galway is the main focus of attention on this side of the Irish Sea, the purple Wicklow Bloodstock colours that we’ll be watching on Diakali will also be worn by Frankie Dettori who rides possible Melbourne Cup hopeful Simenon in the Goodwood Cup at 3.10pm.
Simenon takes on Ascot Gold Cup winner Trip To Paris in what itself looks to be quite an interesting tussle but at Galway it is hoped Diakali can bring forward his solid Grade One form.
Maybe if Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh win the race with Diakali they’ll tell us whether or not he was the stable’s first preference for the Galway Hurdle as Royal Ascot winner Clondaw Warrior was also being aimed here but missed the cut at today’s declaration stage but there’s no doubt either way that Diakali is a most enviable alternative to have.
Hidden Cyclone is a real intriguing runner and if he rushes by the stands in front at the death there are few that will stand there in absolute shock as he has a featherweight on his back compared to his chase rating and it is certainly an avenue worth exploring by connections.
Like Mullins, Aidan O’Brien has only managed to win the Galway Hurdle once, albeit his number of attempts wouldn’t be as high and it would be no surprise if course winner Marchese Marconi came closest since Toast The Spreece scored in 1997.
The Arthur Guinness EBF Corrib Stakes also takes place on tomorrow’s card and this looks a real trappy little affair with a tentative vote given to the David Wachman-trained Queen Nefertiti.
Wachman is another leading trainer who has no problem bringing nice types to Galway, as we saw last year when Legatissmo won her maiden here, and Queen Nefertiti is a three-year-old who I doubt we’ve seen the best of yet.
A runner, behind Legatissimo in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket where she failed to land a blow, the daughter of Galileo has been campaigned in very good company since winning her maiden and will hopefully return to winning ways, although she wouldn’t want the ground to be getting any softer.
Following her success in Monday’s feature with Modem, Jessica Harrington will look to saddle the first horse since Athy Spirit to do the Galway double and claim the Hurdle with the same horse, but prior to that Sandymount Duke can continue his winning streak in the Guinness Novice Hurdle for owner Ronnie Wood.
A winner at Punchestown, Kilbeggan and Tipperary most recently, the six-year-old looks to be continually progressing and the proof of that will come in this two-and-a-half miler.
On a line of form behind Champers On Ice at Punchestown, Dermot Weld’s First Figaro is a pretty obvious pick in the conlcuding bumper and should have no problem extending Weld’s lead at the top of the leading trainer standings for this week.
Cronin's Choices Galway Thursday
1.50 Deputy’s Pass
2.20 Sizing Platinum
3.0 Toccata Blue
3.30 Queen Nefertiti
4.05 Sandymount Duke
5.25 Bog War
6.0 First Figaro