Local Pretender heads entries for Guinness Galway Hurdle


Thursday, July 18, 2019
Sole Pretender

Sole Pretender and Jack Kennedy wins the McGrath Limestone Works Handicap Hurdle at Ballinrobe 12.04.2019 Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post


Grade 1 hero Quick Grabim, Cheltenham Festival winner Band Of Outlaws and the locally-trained Sole Pretender are sure to be among the leading fancies for the €300,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle on Thursday, August 1.

Last year Willie Mullins scored his third success in the race with Sharjah, ridden by his son Patrick, and Quick Grabim, the winner of the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December, is one of nine entries for the champion trainer. Sayo, absent since finishing third in the 2018 Triumph Hurdle, is also on the Mullins team, as are previous Flat winners at the Galway festival Riven Light and Exchange Rate. Course winners Stratum and Shanning could also feature for Mullins who also won the Guinness Galway Hurdle with Clondaw Warrior in 2016 and Mystical City in 1996.

This year’s Cheltenham Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner Band Of Outlaws is one of two entries made by Joseph O'Brien, who won the Guinness Galway Hurdle with Tigris River in 2017. O’Brien has also put Gardens Of Babylon, third in the Triumph Hurdle and another owned by JP McManus, in the race.

Trained in Gort, County Galway by Norman Lee, the Michael Hogan-owned Sole Pretender completed a hat-trick of wins when taking the McHale Mayo Handicap Hurdle at the end of May. The five-year-old would be a first winner at the racecourse for his trainer if successful in the €300,000 contest and the first winner of the race trained in County Galway since the Pat Kelly-trained No Tag in 1995.

Davids Charm was a winner for trainer John Joe Walsh at the festival two years ago and was sent off second favourite for the Guinness Galway Hurdle last year. He finished ninth behind Sharjah on that occasion and looks set for a repeat bid.

Gordon Elliott saddled the second horse home in the Guinness Galway Hurdle in three successive years from 2012 and has three entries as he tries to win the race for the first time. Chosen Mate, a Grade 2 winner at Naas at the beginning of the year, Tombstone, a Grade 3 winner over hurdles and fences, and Star Maker make up his team.

Tony Martin has entered both Tudor City and Golden Spear, both previous winners on the Flat at the festival, while his fellow County Meath trainers Gavin Cromwell and John McConnell have also made two entries. Cromwell has Ejayteekay and Ming Dynasty while course winner Pearl Of The West and Play The Game could represent McConnell. Peregrine Run, the winner of his last five starts, has been given an entry by Peter Fahey for this race and thetote.com Galway Plate.

Another in the meeting’s steeplechase highlight and the Guinness Galway Hurdle is Azzuri, trained by Dan Skelton for the Irish-based The Blind Squirrels Syndicate. The Olly Murphy-trained Fiesole and Sophie Leech’s Garo De Juilley are the other British-trained entries.

The weights for the Guinness Galway Hurdle will be released on Monday, July 22 at 2pm.

Michael Moloney, General Manager of Galway Racecourse, said: “The Guinness Galway Hurdle is always a tough race to win and this year the 150th year of the Galway Races looks like it will be no different with strong teams entered from the top yards. It is great to see Ming Dynasty among the entries for Gavin Cromwell as he beat his stable companion Ejayteekay to win the Galway Hurdle Trial at Bellewstown earlier this month. The Guinness Galway Hurdle always captures the imagination of the crowd on the day, we are very much looking forward to it.”

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The Guinness Galway Hurdle is always a tough race to win and this year the 150th year of the Galway Races looks like it will be no different with strong teams entered from the top yards.

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