Everybody is always eager to know what I am going to run in the 7f maiden (6.15), which is understandable given that we have won it for seven of the last ten years, but I have to warn punters about Right Honourable. While he is a nice gelding, it has been a bit of a rush to get him ready for today. He got struck into on his debut at Leopardstown and that was just 11 days ago. He got badly bruised and the marks are still evident of both of his legs.
That held us up for four or five days and I would be far more confident today if we had a clean run with him since Leopardstown. That is not to say that he cannot win today. He is a lovely gelding and one we like but I am more hopeful than confident and I genuinely think that Aidan’s [O’Brien] colt, Courage Under Fire, will be a tough nut to crack.
A dreadful draw has tempered our enthusiasm about the chances of Heartful in the 7f handicap (6.50). She has been trained for the race, has been working really well at home, will appreciate the better ground and is running over her optimum trip but all of that might not even matter as we have been drawn way out in stall 15. It’s very frustrating.
Horses simply don’t win over 7f at Galway from stall 15, especially in handicaps, so we have some statistics to try and alter. Everything will depend on the break. If she gets out smartly, Pat [Smullen] will try and secure a prominent pitch but, if she misses the kick, it will be a case of dropping in and hoping for some gaps to open.
If Heartful was drawn better, I would be pretty sweet on her chances as she has been consistent in maidens and she is a filly I like. I reckon blinkers will help her concentrate and she couldn’t be in better form.
We run two in the feature Connacht Hotel Handicap (7.20) and, on homework anyway, Time To Inspire would be our number one hope. This has been the plan for him all year as he handled the track so well when winning a 1m4f maiden at this meeting last year by ten lengths under Finny Maguire.
We’ve got Finny back on board today and I think everything is in place for a really big run. He has a nice draw in stall five and conditions should be fine. He has plenty in his favour.
Zafayan is a good horse and that is why he has top-weight. But he is not overly big so carrying such a big weight won’t be easy and, as I said already, I would imagine that Time To Inspire would be the best of my pair.
We have won the 1m4f handicap (7.50) for the last two years on the trot and I think we could complete the hat-trick today with Baliyka. I think she is quite fairly handicapped off a mark of 83. She is a progressive filly who was more workmanlike than impressive when winning her maiden at Gowran Park earlier this month but I think there is more to come from her.
She is a good, tough filly who has been pleasing me and stall six is okay.
Originally Published in the Racing Post