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Frank-ly, there is so much to enjoy

THIS weekend's racing is fairly modest compared to the stream of Group One action we have had the past few Friday evenings. However, this weekend is just the calm before the storm that is next week.

It will escape the attention of very few that Monday marks the beginning of the Galway Festival and whether you are a racing fanatic or just a casual racegoer, the last Monday of July is etched into the calendar as Galway Raceweek.

As well as the good and the great of Galway, we have Glorious Goodwood to look forward to next week and that is set to feature arguably one of the greatest of them all – Frankel.

The only problem is that they run alongside each other in the same week.

While all roads here lead to Galway on Monday for a full seven days of action, it would be wrong to start a preview of next week's fare anywhere else than with the mighty Frankel.

On Wednesday, his unbeaten record will go on the line for a 12th time and following on from his most impressive victory ever at Royal Ascot last time out when he won the Queen Anne Stakes by 11 lengths, Frankel goes into next week as the incredible 1/20 favourite. Yes, 1/20.

If Frankel is to win – or, as it most certainly looks like, when Frankel does win – he will have a different horse following him home for the first time in four races as Aidan O'Brien has decided that Excelebration has been traumatised enough by finishing second three times in a row by a combined total of 20 lengths.

Farhh, Godolphin's Coral Eclipse runner-up, is next best in the betting, while Power seems the best of three Ballydoyle entries, but this is not a race for making millions. This is just a race for appreciating brilliance, appreciating Frankel.

Galway features as a holiday for many, with the craic before and after racing proving just as big a factor as the action in Ballybrit. On the course, we’ll see two of Ireland's summer jumping highlights.

The Galway Hurdle is Ireland's most lucrative prize for jumpers, while the Galway Plate is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious, and this year the Plate has attracted one of its most classy engagements.


Oliver McKiernan's three-time Grade One winner Follow The Plan heads the weights for the Galway Plate and the former Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup winner is being primed for the occasion.

Willie Mullins is mob-handed in both races and he has the current Galway Plate favourite in Grade One winning novice Blackstairmountain as well as last year’s winner Blazing Tempo, while Grade Two-winning and Grade One-placed hurdler Carlito Brigante surely makes this one of the most intriguing renewals.

Captain Cee Bee is the class act in the Galway Hurdle while the continually improving Graded hurdle winner Rebel Fitz heads the betting. With four wins on the bounce, Whatever Jacksays gives McKiernan a strong hand in both and last year’s winner Moon Dice will bid to bounce back to his best for Paul Flynn.

Galway is not just about the Galway Hurdle and Galway Plate, though, and Monday's amateur handicap is a great starter to the week and for three of the past five years it has been a race that got Dermot Weld's week off to a terrific start.

Of course, Weld is the king of Galway. Last year he outdid himself once again and trained 16 of the winners at the meeting, and with his team in good form at the moment expect another mammoth number of winners next week.

Over the first four days of the meeting Weld has made a total of 57 entries, including Notable Graduate, Midnight Music and Universal Truth in Monday's feature, Rock Critic in Tuesday's Topaz Galway Mile, Prince Erik and Daffern Seal in the Galway Plate, while previous course winner Teach Nua is his only entry in the Galway Hurdle.

Weld isn't afraid of running some of his higher ranked inmates as he has proved in recent years and Yellow Rosebud, who has been placed in Group One company and is a Group Three winner, holds an entry for the Listed race on day four of the Festival.

There may not be a lot to look forward to this weekend but next week is a feast.