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Clash of the titans

TOMORROW'S www.thetote.com Galway Plate is undoubtedly set to be one of the most competitive and classiest renewals of the race in recent years, as the weights are topped by three-time Grade One winner Follow The Plan, with another Grade One winner Blackstairmountain looking like being sent off favourite.

Last year's first two home will again reappear with Blazing Tempo looking to become only the third horse since the 1960s to win consecutive runnings, while Wise Old Owl hasn't raced since finishing behind Willie Mullins' mare 12 months ago.

Also adding some real class to this year's race is the Gordon Elliott-trained Carlito Brigante, who was a Grade Two winner and placed in Grade One company over hurdles, while last season's Irish Grand National runner-up Out Now also pitches up and Out Now is my idea of the winner.

Edward O'Grady's charge has had a nice long break since his gallant effort behind Lion Na Bearnai in the Fairyhouse showpiece at Easter, but punters should have little fear about O'Grady gearing one up after a lay-off.

Out Now finished second to Seabass prior to his Irish National run and both those runs are good enough to have him bang in contention at around 14/1.

Following the success of Jane Mangan in yesterday's big race, Nina Carberry will bid to become only the second lady rider in Galway Plate history to finish in front.

Carberry, whose brother Paul was on board when Mangan's father trained Stroll Home to win the 1997 renewal, will take the mount on Cross Appeal for Noel Meade as she bids to emulate Sarah Collon, who won the race on Bold Flyer in 1989.

Meanwhile, Dermot Weld can never be ruled out in a race at Galway as yesterday certainly proved. However, his chances of adding to his tally on day three of the meeting do look a bit slimmer.



Shock

It would still be a shock, however, if Weld manages to emerge from Ballybrit without a winner, and his two best chances look to be Mahaazen in the Tote Trifecta Rollover Handicap and Tandem in the last.

Weld spoke strongly about the benefit of maidens having a run before Galway, and Tandem came close on his debut at Naas when finishing second and should be a warm order to open the account here and send favourite backers home happy.

Mahaazen is another that comes here on the back of a run at Naas back in June and after being freshened up a bit, she is expected to return to winning ways.

The amateur riders' maiden looks between Weld's Dancers Dilemma and Willie Mullins' Pique Sous, and the latter is selected to frank the form of their previous meeting where Pique Sous had four lengths to spare.

Mullins can also start the day on a good note with facile bumper winner Connaught Manor, who looks a hotpot in the Tote Pick Six Maiden Hurdle, while Michael Mulvany's First Impressions can build on recent efforts to win the New Website 'thetote.com' Handicap Hurdle.