Galway Plate Tips: O'Brien's Charge to Burn Opposition

Joseph O'Brien has a strong chance in the Galway Plate
Joseph O'Brien has a strong chance in the Galway Plate

The Galway Plate is arguably the highlight of the whole jamboree of racing at the famous Irish summetime showpiece, with only the Galway Hurdle coming close to matching it for prestige. Billy Grimshaw has been tasked with previewing the race for us and has a strong selection to come home in front for 2020's winning trainer...

Willie Mullins ended something of a Galway Plate drought when last season his favourite Royal Rendezvous won the race and handed the master trainer a first Plate since a decade earlier in 2011. The Closutton handler is predictably strong handed in this season's contest but it his namesake Emmet Mullins who seems to have this year's market cornered as he trains both the favourite and second favourite at the time of writing. Firstly the favourite, Cape Gentleman. Arguably his best performance last season was destroying a horse in Run Wild Fred who had turned a heavy ground Troytown in to a precession, beating him by 14 lengths in a novice chase on heavy ground at Cork. He looked to have the world at his feet following this display but did not get his head in front again through the rest of the year, going down to Riviere D'etel before falling behind the smart Beacon Edge when last seen. His best performances have been when stamina has been to the fore so this step up to 2m 6 and 1/2f should suit and he is respected for shrewd connections. 

The other Emmet Mullins runner who could easily eclipse Cape Gentleman in the market due to his history and of course the JP factor is The Shunter. He became one of the most popular horses in training a couple of seasons back when notching a sequence of valuable handicaps on each side of the Irish Sea and indeed over both hurdles and fences, culminating in a sensational win at the Cheltenham Festival in the Plate. He was fourth in this race last year off three pounds lighter than the 11st4 he is set to carry here (the same weight as Cape Gentleman) and on this season's form it would be hard to make a case that he is in better form than he was in July 2021. His last appearance, a four and a half length success at Sligo, was a step in the right direction and a horse with his back class and such connections can never be ruled out in a contest as valuable as this but if choosing between Emmet Mullins' runners I would just about favour Cape Gentleman.

A host of challengers will be looking to ensure Emmet Mullins doesn't have things all his own way, none more so than Willie Mullin's El Barra. He was a ready winner last time out in a handicap chase at Punchestown in late April, scoring by six lengths from Busselton. Paul Townend has sided to ride him over top weight stablemate Easy Game and this means El Barra will be carrying ten pounds more than he did at Punchestown under a five pound claimer, which will be no mean feat. Townend's mount definitely looks to be the stable's leading chance ahead of the admirably consistent but surely burdened by too much weight mount of Jack Foley Easy Game, while another Mullins runner Annamix returns a year on from pulling up after a first flight blunder. This race should once again be too hot for him. Hewick is the mount of Jordan Gainford and is one for the shortlist for JJ Hanlon, but his price is a bit skinny for what he has accomplished so far.

Gabynako was given next to no chance when pitched into the Arkle at Cheltenham back in March, with most predicting he would need further. In the end Gavin Cromwell silenced the doubters as his charge ran a great race in second, but many will be pleased to see his stamina being tested more in a contest like this. He will be one of the top weights but has the class and looks fairly solid each-way. Ash Tree Meadow will be well fancied but for me is a bit too inexperienced for a race of this nature. Darasso has earned many plaudits for his consistency over hurdles this campaign, mopping up whenever the tip top rivals aren't in town. However, he has arguably never shown quite as good form over fences so is one passed over for this year's Galway Plate. There are a host of other runners with claims in what is predictably a tricky puzzle for punters to solve, but the one who will be carrying my cash is another of Joseph O'Brien's entrants.

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Fire Attack is set to carry a featherweight of just 10stone 10 for Gigginstown and Joseph and with Shane Fitzgerald's three pound claim a gift for such a talented rider, he looks primed for a huge run in this valuable contest. He won as he liked in a novice handicap chase at Punchestown last time out when a well backed 13/8 favourite under today's jockey, and judging on his run style the extra furlong and a bit today will only play to his strengths. Still only a seven year old and with much of his earlier career spent running over the minimum distance and being done for speed, this sort of test looks right up his street.

His run style of aiming to lead or at least be prominent is one that has proved effective in the past in this contest and if he can find a rhythm he could under Fitzgerald stretch this field out and hopefully that stamina he has looked like possessing can be exemplified in a victorious performance. 

2022 Galway Plate
Fire Attack silk

Fire Attack (EW)

Fell
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