Tote Galway Plate: Runner-by-runner guide

The Shunter leads the market ahead of latest chapter in historic race

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mark Walsh with last year's Tote Galway Plate, which he won on Early Doors for Joseph O'Brien

Always among the highlights of any Galway Festival, the lucrative Tote Galway Plate takes pride of place on Wednesday’s card, writes Paul Martin.

Now worth €250,000, a €50,000 increase on last year, with €147,500 to the winner, it promises to be a captivating battle at Ballybrit.

Here’s a look at those who are looking to etch their names into Festival folklore…

1 Samcro

Denise Foster’s dual Cheltenham Festival winner tops the weights for this year’s Plate, going in at 11st 10lb.

Question marks remain around consistency, with this year so far a case in point as a Grade 3 win at Killarney was followed by a disappointing sixth at Listowel.

2 Easy Game

The heaviest of Willie Mullins’ six contenders, which son Patrick - who rode him in the Plate last year - feels could count against him in a race ‘where weight does matter’.

Mullins junior also revealed to Off The Ball that the seven-year-old’s ‘game doesn’t play’ when it rains, so any potential backers are advised to check the forecast.

3 Battleoverdoyen

Victorious on his only previous visit to Galway in October 2019, this eight-year-old is a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and jumps.

Looked excellent in winning the Lough Construction Ltd Chase at Down Royal last October and though without a win since, this could be the stage to rediscover his touch.

4 Brahma Bull

Led home a field of 20 at Punchestown last time out and goes into this one off a career-high mark.

Has a different man in the saddle, with Jack Foley replacing Brian Hayes, but this Mullins contender can’t be discounted.

5 Royal Rendezvous

Came within a whisker of landing Plate honours for Mullins last year having gone in as favourite only to be edged out by Early Doors up the hill.

Goes in 8lb heavier this time around but Paul Townend has again opted to take the reins as he looks to go one better - Townend also rode Blazing Tempo in 2011, the last time Mullins took home the Plate.

6 The Shunter

The current Plate favourite at 11-2, Emmet Mullins’ eight-year-old is looking for more Festival glory having triumphed in the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham earlier this year.

Goes in off a mark 16lb higher this time around but his consistency is remarkable, having not finished outside the top four in his last ten outings.

7 Annamix

Patrick Mullins has opted to saddle a horse who has so far disappointed his yard on the big occasion, but there would be no better time to put that right.

Should like the ground, and Mullins will be eager to get the best out of him.

8 Darasso

Enters in good form with two wins in his last three outings, combined with a runners-up finish in the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary.

One of four contenders for Joseph O’Brien as he looks to record back-to-back Plate wins.

9 Home By The Lee

Another for Joseph O’Brien, this six-year-old was disappointing in the Irish Grand National on his last outing but comes back down in trip for this one.

Three wins in five before the National showed what he was capable of and he can’t be ruled out.

10 Livelovelaugh

Was well fancied in the Guinness Handicap Chase at Punchestown in April and started well but faded before being pulled up two from home.

Has not raced since so will be refreshed and raring to go as he looks to rediscover the form which saw him cruise to the Topham at Aintree earlier this year.

11 Off You Go

Recent outings offer hope for Cathal Byrnes’ eight-year-old.

Victory in the Leopardstown Chase over a similar distance to this preceded a solid sixth in the Irish National - should relish this trip.

12 Assemble

Falls in three of his last four don’t inspire a wealth of confidence but was going well at Killarney before being stopped in his tracks at the penultimate fence.

Fifth in the Paddy Power Plate at Cheltenham offers more reason to be optimistic for Joseph O’Brien and Gigginstown.

13 Mitchouka

Another to go in off a career-high mark, Mitchouka led home Livelovelaugh in the Equestrian Handicap Chase at Leopardstown in March.

Finished well down the field in only Festival appearance two years ago, but should fare better on return.

14 Snow Falcon

Noel Meade’s veteran has two wins over fences under his belt but has not tasted success anywhere since Gowran Park in October 2019, 13 runs ago.

Three successive runner-up finishes heading into this one, and Meade’s sole contender as he looks to land a second Plate following Road to Riches’ victory seven years ago.

15 The West’s Awake

Fourth in this race at 66-1 last year and looks set to enter at around half that price this time around.

Will need to step up to repeat the feat having finished down the field at Wexford in his last outing.

16 Top Moon

Perhaps Joseph O’Brien’s best chance of retaining his crown, a victory for Top Moon would see owner JP McManus do likewise.

Won well over a slightly shorter trip at Wexford in June and has a Plate-winning jockey on board, Mark Walsh having steered Bob Lingo to glory in 2012.

17 Visioman

Impressed in finishing second to The West’s Awake in the Galway Plate Trial at Kilbeggan.

A good stayer who could be worth a look in the each-way market.

18 Ben Dundee

Impressive performances at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years but without a win since November 2018.

19 Modus

Third in the Grimes Hurdle on his first run-out since switching to Edna Bolger’s yard having previously been trained by Paul Nicholls.

Wily veteran with a string of Class 2 victories under his belt in the UK, sixth in the Plate two years ago on his only previous visit to Ballybrit.

20 Koshari

Excellent handicap victory having gone off at 25-1 at Punchestown in May.

Has ‘a lovely racing weight’, according to Willie Mullins, while son Patrick feels Koshari could be the best bet from the Mullins stable.

21 Snugsborough Hall

Third in maiden at Killarney in June on the flat and now switches to chase looking to make an impression.

22 Somptueux

Henry de Bromhead scooped the Plate in 2015 and 2017 and Somptueux looks his best shot at completing a hat-trick.

Edged out by Top Man at Wexford earlier this month but won three times in six starts last season.

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