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Monday 26 September 2016

Tonto can top the Ahonoora

In-form Ellison ready to Notch up hat-trick

Top Notch Tonto with Dale Swift up winning at Haydock
Top Notch Tonto with Dale Swift up winning at Haydock

After another seven hectic days in Ballybrit, the marathon Galway Festival will come to a close tomorrow and there is still plenty of prize money up for grabs with the €100,000 Ahonoora Handicap the feature race.

The race has been won for the last two seasons by the Brian Ellison-trained Baraweez and the six-year-old will bid for a hat-trick tomorrow afternoon as he spearheads a four-strong assault from his trainer.

When he's able to come over and pick up prizes such as this, it is no surprise that Ellison has a fondness for the Galway Festival.

He has already had six runners and a winner at the meeting this week, and Totalize will line up this afternoon in the feature Grade B Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle before his assault on the Ahonoora tomorrow.

Baraweez, who finished fifth at Galway on Tuesday night in the Colm Quinn BMW Mile, first won this race off a mark of 91 before returning to score off 99 last year.

Now he'll have to try and repeat the feat off a rating of 103, but has 7lbs claiming, apprentice Daniel Redmond booked to try and counter some of his rise in the weights.

All four of the Ellison runners have already had a trip around Galway this week. Top Notch Tonto, Stipulate and Baraweez finished second, fourth and fifth respectively behind Creggs Pipes on Tuesday, and Dream Walker was third here on Thursday afternoon, so there are certainly no concerns regarding the form of the Ellison team.

It's a tough one to call with the home challenge strengthened by recent Curragh victor Have A Nice Day and The Happy Prince for Aidan O'Brien, but Top Notch Tonto is picked to come out on top and go one better than Tuesday night when losing little in defeat to the admirable Creggs Pipes.

It is not only the horses on the flat that are making a quick reappearance this week as five of the Galway Plate runners are also declared to run on Sunday and in total there are 26 horses declared that have already run this week.

Taking on a number of the horses that ran in the Plate, the hope is that Elegant Statesman is able to see off his rivals in the At The Races Chase.

Henry de Bromhead's charge won the Galway Plate Trial at Down Royal and has been in good form so his freshness might see him edge a race the owner won two years ago with Jacksonslady.

There's no doubt that one of the unluckiest losers of the week was Sea Light when flying home under Davy Russell on Wednesday to just be denied and he is one of the 26 that reappear. However, another who didn't enjoy the smoothest of runs was Rendezvous Peak on Tuesday evening and, allowed to take his chance again by Gordon Elliott, he might prove a better alternative to Sea Light who is going to be very short in the betting.

Mountain King will be having his first run for Elliott since joining him from the horses in training sales but he has some good form and is worth watching closely in the market, while our very own Katie Walsh might be able to sign of the week by winning the finale for Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer Pat Kelly.

Walsh rides Licklighter in the Fr Sean Breen Memorial Bumper, an impressive looking winner from Killarney recently and although this looks a very good winners bumper, the pair shouldn't be discounted.

galway today

2.40 Rogue Agent

3.15 Delegate

3.50 Capri

4.25 Sir Edwin Landseer

5.00 Tithonus

5.35 Shinghari

6.05 Queen Deirdre

galway tomorrow

2.15 Chadic

2.45 Rendezvous Peak

3.20 Top Notch Tonto

3.55 Elegant Statesman

4.30 Mountain King

5.00 Tarazani

5.30 Mounira

6.00 Licklighter

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