CHAMPION trainer Willie Mullins is anticipating a strong challenge on the feature races at Galway this week.
Mullins (pictured below), who has two runners, Drive On Regardless and Earls Quarter this evening, is responsible for Blackstairmountain, the ante-post favourite for the www.thetote.com Galway Plate on Wednesday.
The latter could be joined by last year's winner Blazing Tempo, although she is also in Thursday's Guinness Galway Hurdle alongside Drive Time and Rattan.
Blackstairmountain could not have been more impressive when winning on the Flat earlier this month and is the general 6-1 market leader.
Mullins said: "I'm looking forward to running Blackstairmountain in the Tote-sponsored Galway Plate, he's a previous course winner and he does jump well.
"I have three left in the Guinness Galway Hurdle.
"I thought Rattan was very unlucky down in Killarney last time over hurdles.
"And it looks like he's in off a nice weight.
"Drive Time has good form from Punchestown and Killarney.
"I suppose you'd have to be a little wary of Blazing Tempo after a below-par run the last time, but she does like Galway, we know that.
"So depending on what way the ground is we'll let her take her chance, whichever race we go for."
Assessing what is needed to win at Ballybrit, Mullins said: "Galway is fairly unique, your horse is always doing something -- turning or going uphill, downhill -- but yet it takes a fair bit of galloping from the bottom of the hill up to the winning post. That's a long, tough climb.
"You see the same horses going back and winning at Galway year after year.
"And if a horse has previous winning form at the track it can be worth about 7lb to you."
Drive Time and Blazing Tempo are 9-1 and 12-1 chances respectively with Stan James for the Galway Hurdle.