Galway Plate Preview: Rendezvous to score for Mullins

A bumper field will line up for the 2020 Galway Plate on Wednesday evening.
A bumper field will line up for the 2020 Galway Plate on Wednesday evening.

Steve Chambers previews the 2020 Galway Plate, as the Gordon Elliott-trained Galvin aims to land the spoils for favourite backers in a race that is the highlight of day three of the Galway Festival.

Gordon Elliott has saddled the last two winners of the Galway Plate, and the master Irish handler will be mob-handed as he attempts to land the hat-trick in the hugely competitive handicap chase. Galvin will spearhead the Elliott charge, and the six-year-old will look to improve on a fine second-placed finish at the Cheltenham Festival, and it's no surprise to see him heading the betting at the time of writing.

Following on from his fine second place in the Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase, where he was beaten by the progressive Imperial Aura, Galvin then cruised to a 22-length success over fences at Killarney at the beginning of July, and that should have him tuned up nicely for a crack at the Ballybrit showpiece.

Proven in big-field contests, Galvin most certainly sets the standard and he is certainly open to improvement, and it's hard to not see him making the frame, but could the Elliott-trained charge just find one too good on Wednesday? Possibly so.

Surprisingly, Willie Mullins has only trained the winner of the Galway Plate during his illustrious career once (Blazing Tempo 2011), but the master of Closutton could well taste success again in the summer highlight as he saddles the exciting Royal Rendezvous, who can deliver the goods in his first crack at a handicap over fences. Handed a mark of 146, Royal Rendezvous was last seen competing in Grade 1 novice chases last season, where he found Notebook to be too strong, but with his sights lowered at Naas in Grade 3 company the eight-year-old got his head in front.

Unlike Galvin, Mullins' charge will have to line up without the benefit of a run, but having shown promise over fences, he could well prove to be a notable thorn in Galvin's side. With winning form at Galway, Royal Rendezvous has all the makings of a potential Graded chaser next season, and off 146 he can delight the Mullins yard and storm to victory at double-figure odds.

Another prominent Mullins-trained runner is Easy Game, who is another venturing into the handicap sphere for the first time. Last seen falling in the RSA Chase, the six-year-old needs to show that that tumble hasn't dented his confidence, and having shown smart novice chase form then that has meant he has been handed a tough task off 154. With stable jockey Paul Townend opting to side with Royal Rendezvous then Easy Game may just find it a little too tough in what is a fascinating renewal.

Often a race targeted by owner J.P. McManus, the green and gold silks will only be carried by four challengers this year, and at the forefront of that quartet is the Joseph O'Brien-trained Early Doors, who is still open to improvement over the larger obstacles, and has to be respected at the bottom of the weights. He defied top weight to land victory in the 2019 Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival, but has only managed to grab three placed finishes in four chase starts. Now making his handicap chase bow off a mark of 139, Early Doors has to be a lively contender, should he get his jumping into a rhythm.

Us And Them was another seen competing at the Cheltenham Festival, and he was a creditable third in the Grand Annual on the final day, but the O'Brien-trained raider will make a significant step up in trip in the Galway Plate. There's significant doubt as to whether a step up in trip is what is needed, so it's easy to brush him aside when trying to compile the shortlist.

Peregrine Run beat Robin Des Foret when the pair clashed at Killarney earlier this month, but the latter will be 3 lb better off in Wednesday's clash. However, the Peter Fahey-trained Peregrine Run was a comfortable winner that day and he should be able to frank the form with the Mullins-trained contender, who is hovering around the 16/1 mark, at the time of writing.

Of the others, The Storyteller ran a huge race when second to Sire Du Berlais in the Pertemps Final in March, but a return to fences may not be the ticket for him returning to winning ways, while Spyglass Hill and Snugsborough Benny are another brace of lively contenders and have each-way claims, but this could be a race dominated by Messrs Elliott and Mullins, with the latter prevailing 

Selection:

Galway Plate, Galway, Wednesday 29th July - back Royal Rendezvous at 8/1

Glorious Goodwood 2020
Galway Plate
Royal Rendezvous silk

Royal Rendezvous

placed
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