After a miserable weekend for their hurlers and footballers, the Galway sporting public are out in force chasing consolation at Ballybrit this week.
Traditionally, the go-to guy is Dermot Weld, who registered an amazing 200th winner at the festival last year. This time round Weld will again field a contender in many of the meeting’s 50-plus races – but the recent bouts of heavy rain have left the going softer than many of his horses would ideally favour.
Weld’s hope in Thursday’s Arthur Guinness Galway Hurdle is Vital Plot, who has proved adaptable enough to the underfoot conditions. After a nasty spill at Leapardstown in January, Weld has eased the five-year-old back into action with a couple of spins on the flat.
Willie Mullins’ Deutschland is the early punters’ favourite for the race. Mullins opted for the two-miler after deciding against running the six-year old as top weight in the Plate.
Deutschland has impressed in recent months, winning five of his last seven outings. These included a good win on the flat in Dundalk a few weeks ago and a two and a half lengths victory over Majestic Concorde at Leapardstown in March, having run on well from the last.
Paul Nolan’s Cuan Na Grai also demands consideration at a slightly longer price – you should get around 13-1. The reliable eight-year-old gelding won at Tipperary and Killarney in June and May and has the quality to give you a good run.
Heading up the British-trained challenge is Classic Swain – the Paul Nicholls horse is another in good form with four wins and three seconds in seven outings.
But despite jumping the last better than Consulate at Stratford last week, he couldn’t find any more in the tank and lost by a length and a half.
I like the look of the John “Shark” Hanlon-trained Truckers Delight. Davy Russell will be on board the eight-year-old, who won last time out at the Curragh and improved well from two out to ease to six-length win at Punchestown in April.
Although he faded in the last furlong at Gowran Park in June when Rajik went away from him.
But Truckers Delight likes Ballybrit – a win, a fourth and a fifth last year – and should stay the pace.
Recommendation: Truckers Delight 9-1
Meanwhile they have a small meeting of their own in the UK this week as Goodwood retains its glory despite some heavy early-week rain.
Come Saturday, Andrew Lloyd-Webber could be hitting the high notes as his ultra-consistent Dar Re Mi looks a good shout in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes.
The four-year-old filly showed a tough streak in holding off Beach Bunny by a short head in a physical finish at the Curragh last month.
Dar Re Mi was runner-up to Lush Lashes in the Yorkshire Oaks last August and trailed Zarkava by two lengths in the Prix Vermeille last Autumn. She could be ready for her own taste of glory.
Recommendation: Dar Re Mi
The All-Ireland football quarter-final pairings have thrown up some intriguing ties, none more so, of course, than the next instalment in the grand old Kerry-Dublin rivalry. Unusually in recent times, the Dubs go in as favourites as Kerry’s internal wrangling and indifferent qualifier form heap all of the pressure on the Metropolitans.
But Dublin showed plenty of resolve in seeing off Kildare’s strong Leinster final challenge when a man light and they should have the scoring power to put the Kingdom out of their summer misery.
Donegal have improved in recent weeks but take a powerful Cork outfit to join the Dubs in the semis and put their Munster final uncertainty behind them.
Recommendations: Cork-Dublin double