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Mullins can notch up a first with Sharjah

Galway Festival definitely won't be the same but at least it's on

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Patrick Mullins hasn’t won the Galway Hurdle before but can do so this evening on Sharjah

Patrick Mullins hasn’t won the Galway Hurdle before but can do so this evening on Sharjah

Racing Post

Patrick Mullins hasn’t won the Galway Hurdle before but can do so this evening on Sharjah

A very different Galway in a very different year. In many ways, it is hard to believe the Galway Festival is back around already but in light of everything that has been going on this year it's just fantastic that we are racing and that we will have seven days of action in Ballybrit.

We all know Galway won't be the same without the crowds but there will still be eight winners today and eight sets of connections watching from home a lot happier than they were this morning.

When I was riding you'd always be counting down to the opening day of Galway because the feature is one of the biggest amateur races on the calendar.

I was never lucky enough to win it and Patrick Mullins is also yet to do so but that might change with SHARJAH (6.45, Galway).

Sharjah has won six times for Willie Mullins since he joined from France and included amongst those are a Galway Hurdle and three Grade Ones so there is no doubting that he sets the standard here.

This is one of the biggest races of the year for a reason, though - you need a horse with the attributes to win it and you also need luck on your side.

Great White Shark won it last year and Jody Townend is back on him but lightning rarely strikes twice in this race. If Patrick is to be denied later, it could be by his uncle, Tony, with Princess Zoe.

Jody won the Ladies Derby on this filly last time out and Tony has got Finny Maguire booked but the wide draw and a 13lb hike from the handicapper might make things difficult there.

While Patrick will be focused on the big race, later on the card he's going for four in a row in the finale.

This is a race Patrick has won six times in total for Willie and MT LEINSTER (7.45, Galway) has always had a big reputation in Closutton and should overcome a wide draw in 16.

I won't be at Galway myself but I'll be roaring on KOURVOISIER (4.40, Galway) from home.

This filly is trained by my husband, Ross, and she was a very pleasant surprise winner at Sligo earlier this month. She was 80/1 that day and showed a great attitude to get up in the latter stages and she'd have come on plenty for the experience of that outing.

Ross has booked promising apprentice Gavin Ryan to claim off 5lb which leaves her with a nice racing weight and the way she won the last day you'd be hopeful that the track and the step-up in trip won't be an inconvenience.

She's owned by a syndicate and that is the backbone of the Galway Races, syndicates going to a big festival with a chance, so it's a shame they can't be there but if Kourvoisier can get involved at the business end of things that will more than make up for it, I'm sure.

The Galmont.com & Galwaybayhotel Handicap divided to make an eight-race card today and I think the Sheehy brothers, Danny and Mikey, will land the spoils with a division each.

These are two talented jockeys, who are the son of trainer Dusty, and in the opening heat Danny will try bring up the hat-trick on LADY SCATHACH (5.15, Galway). She went up 12lb for her win at Navan and then won snugly at Leopardstown last week so gets in her off a penalty and I think she'll see off all challengers again.

Mikey Sheehy then rides THE MPEX KID (5.45, Galway) in the next and after making an impressive start in debut company last time there looks to be more to come from Dot Love's charge.

Tony Martin is a great man for a winner at Galway and his horses just seem to be coming right at the right time so SHARE THE HONOUR (6.15, Galway) deserves a close look in the Easyfix Handicap.

Killian Hennesy made the most of his chance from Aidan O'Brien in a Listed race at Dundalk and he can get further reward when partnering ELIZABETHOFARAGON (7.15, Galway).

Racing begins with a maiden in which O'Brien's Wembley will be fancied, but I think TRUSTED ALLY (4.10, Galway) would win this.

Katie's choice

4.10 Trusted Ally

4.40 Kourvoisier

5.15 Lady Scathach

5.45 The Mpex Kid

6.15 Share The Honour

6.45 Sharjah

7.15 Elizabethofaragon

7.45 Mt Leinster