Grand National Prep Races 2010: The Galway Plate

Hi Everyone,

The title here may raise a few eyebrows as the Galway Plate may not be renowned as a race that throws up Grand National runners but Irish Invader, Baily Breeze and Bothar Na are three horses that have run in both the Galway Plate and the Grand National recently and a couple of other well known horses have had strong associations with the Grand National: 2006 Plate winner Far From Trouble and 2003 Grand National winner Monty’s Pass.
Far From Trouble began to realise his potential when taking the 2006 Galway race and was made favourite for the Grand National on the strength of his win in the Plate and also a couple of eye-catching defeats at the Cheltenham Festival and in the Irish National. Sadly injury intervened and Far From Trouble didn’t make it to Aintree but it does highlight that the Galway Plate can throw up horses that can shake up the betting at Aintree.
Monty Regularly Ran In Plate
2003 Grand National winner Monty’s Pass ran in the Galway Plate from 2000 to 2002 finishing 2nd, 6th and 6th. He is indicative of the type of Irish chaser who tends to run at Galway season after season. The Plate provides a quality field for horses that may prefer good ground, something not seen that often in Ireland! Consequently horses tend to run in the race year after year even if (as with Monty’s Pass) the race itself may not provide the type of stamina test they would require to be ultra competitive. Horses such as the ones highlighted in the list below are the type we are looking for to see if any of the Irish trainers are advertising early intentions with their charges and lining them up for a campaign aimed at Aintree.
What Should Be looking For In A Galway Plate Winner?
Winners of the Galway Plate can be at the other end of the spectrum to horses such as Monty’s Pass with a couple of speedsters such as Ansar and Grimes successful in the last ten years but the majority tend to be proven at 20-22 furlongs over fences and, crucially, their ability to act on the ground shouldn’t be left to trust as all the winners in the last ten years had won on the prevailing ground conditions or on a variety of grounds from good to firm to soft. Previous winning form at Galway should also be not seen as a negative with three of the last ten victors coming into the race as previous course and distance winners. No horse older than nine had won in the last ten years so that would appear to put a question mark against quite a few fancied horses.

Fifty-two horses are still entered in the Galway Plate at time of writing and the ones that immediately stand out as potential Aintree candidates in my eyes are:

Hoo La Baloo
Royal County Star
Church Island
Bothar Na
Oscar India

The last two named would probably have to improve somewhat to enter Aintree calculations given their relatively low ratings but a win here could catapult them into the reckoning but Oscar India could be more of a proposition for Fairyhouse given he has already run well at the track. Church Island has interested a number of our posters since finishing runner-up to Niche Market in the Irish National and then having a decent run in the Whitbread (or whatever it’s called these days! Sorry B365!) Church Island is definitely interesting but the one that I will be watching closely this year is Oodachee. I was very impressed with his effort in the Topham behind Irish Raptor but I’m not sure what to make of his follow-up fifth at Sandown? Only beaten just over six lengths in the 2007 Irish National but then Pulled Up a year later in the same race, I am undecided if this horse stays marathon trips or not? A Marju pedigree does not inspire confidence on that score but I would like to hear people’s long term opinions on Oodachee.

Two To Avoid This Year?
Oslot was the youngest horse to win the Galway Plate in the last decade at six years old and the same team have the current favourite in Roby De Cimbre but he looks to lack the obvious quality of his stablemate from last year and I would be keen to take him on.
A faller in the race won by Oslot was Tony Martin’s Green Mile and he appears to have been targeted at this race for some time so it would be no surprise to see his current price evaporate. However, he is still to record a win over fences and whilst he may turn out to be well handicapped he will have to jump better than his previous efforts over fences.
Who Do You Fancy And Will They End Up At Aintree?
I’ll personally be looking at the horses in the handicap rated 119-135 (eight of the last ten winners fitted into that group) this week and seeing if I can find something with proven stamina at least 20 furlongs and the capacity to perform on good or good to firm ground. I’ll add a couple of ideas on to this post for people to discuss but why not let us know your ideas on the Galway Plate on this page and don’t forget to give us all your views on runners in the race that might end up at Aintree.

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22 Responses to Grand National Prep Races 2010: The Galway Plate

  1. The Stayer says:

    Excellent stuff admin! As i’m not a real flat racing enthusiast I look forward to big races throughout the summer in order to get me through these lean jumping times!

    With regards to the National I agree with your list that those horses would be the most likely to head to Aintree but I would have Royal County Star and Hoo La Baloo as doubtful stayers and as you said, Bothar Na and Oscar India are not rated highly enough to get in at this stage. That leaves Oodachee and Church Island. Don’t need to say too much about Church Island as we know he ticks a lot of the right boxes for Aintree but Oodachee is far less straightforward. He’s run in the Topham was very good and the time before that he ran ok in the Kim Muir. On those performances I backed him for the Bet365 and he was disappointing there finishing a well-beaten 5th. For me the jury is still out on a)whether he stays that sort of trip and b) if he’s really good enough to win one of these big races. The handicappper may have his measure anyway.

    That’s Aintree now Galway. I agree that Roby De Cimbre is a shocking ante-post price. Sticking with Oodachee, he’s been placed and 6th in this race and has also won on the course. The course and distance clearly suit and at 20/1 he could be a solid e/w bet, but I can’t see him winning. I say “could” be because if you look through his form the horse clearly loves fast ground. This race is normally run on fast ground, but just like here Ireland have had their fair share of rain over the last few weeks and a lot of the courses over there are the slower side of good at the moment. If there’s more rain that won’t help him. I know he was 2nd last year on good-yielding but Hoo La Baloo was running off 154 last year (too keep the weight down for Oslot), and that kept a lot of horses out of the handicap. Hoo La Baloo has been dropped to 143 this year so a lot more horses will run from in the handicap making it a more competitive race. Oodachee is running off a mark 9lbs higher than last year so unless he gets his conditions he might struggle.

    Church Island is an interesting one. He’s been revitalised with the introduction of headgear and rain two crackers in the Irish National and Bet365. He had a pipe-opener over hurdles the other day without the headgear and that should bring him on for this. You would have thought that 2m6f wouldn’t be far enough for him these days but thay go a decent gallop in this usually and you need a horse that will see out the trip. Any rain that falls won’t inconvenience him, in fact it would help – he stays much further than this and likes to front-run so i’m sure the plan will be to get out there and make this a decent test. If the ground is on the slow side other horses will find it difficult to quicken and he may be difficult to peg back. With a bit of rain I would be very interested in backing him at around 20/1.

    As for the other horses, Piano Star is of intrest as would Wins Now be if he gets in.

  2. Neil says:

    Hi there, never considered this race before, but willing to give it a try. Been studying the ten year pattern of this race.

    The last ten year winners were;
    2008 Oslot, age 6, weight 10-13, OR 143 (22 ran)
    2007 Sir Frederick, age 7, weight 9-10, OR 126 (22 ran)
    2006 Far From Trouble, age 7, weight 10-4, OR 128 (22 ran)
    2005 Ansar, age 9, weight 11-11, OR 135 (22 ran)
    2004 Ansar, age 8, weight 10-12 OR 127 (22 ran)
    2003 Nearly A Moose, age 7, weight 10-1, OR 123 (22 ran)
    2002 Rockholm Boy, age 9, weight 10-5, OR 119 (22 ran)
    2001 Grimes, age 8, weight 10-1, OR 128 (14 ran)
    2000 Dovaly, age 7, weight 9-13, OR 114 (22 ran)
    1999 Moscow Express, age 7, weight 11-4, OR 135 (21 ran)

  3. Neil says:

    Breaking down the age groups we the records in the past ten years stands at:
    Five year olds 0 wins in 1 run, six year olds 1 win in 18 runs, seven year olds 5 wins in 48 runs, eight year olds 2 wins 59 runs, nine year olds 2 wins in 45 runs, ten year olds 0 wins in 19 runs, eleven year olds 0 wins in 17 runs and finally twelve year olds 0 wins in 4 runs.

    From this it looks like seven to nine year olds are favoured.
    The OR range from 114 to 143, majority around 120′s ,maybe an exceptable range would be 135 to 120.
    Weight from 9-10 to 11-11 with a 6,4 split it looks like lower weights are favoured, but only just.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Stayer and Neil – some great points.

    The declarations are out now and most of the top weights mentioned in my earlier post have stood their ground but I would want to find something more attractively weighted as I think the recent winners of this race that won carrying a decent weight have had a touch more class than the runners at the head of the field tomorrow.
    I mentioned the rough starting point I was going from in the opening post and I like the look of the following:

    Hill Fairy
    Piano Star
    Washington Lad

    I’m particularly keen on Hill Fairy as the race she won at Cork in December has thrown up a hatful of winners and she looks as if she may have been off with a slight problem between then and her two recent runs should have put her straight for this. Her last run against Royal County Star was very encouraging and she is much better off at the weights today. It is sometimes dangerous to take too much notice of weight swings in races such as this but Hill Fairy looks like a horse who could be well handicapped to me.

    Piano Star is another interesting contender with an impressive last win at Kilbeggan just a few days ago. He gets to run here off a similar mark so could be well in but my only concern is that I backed him when disappointing in this race last year. Perhaps something at Galway does not suit?

    Lastly there is Washington Lad. Slightly high in the weights for my liking but my eyes keep getting drawn to his Grade 3 winning hurdle form with Asian Maze and the suggestion that connections have been experimenting to find his best trip over fences. It could well be that this mid range trip will turn out to be ideal and, for me, he certainly warrants a close look.

    Hopefully a few more of you will give us your ideas on the Galway Plate and let us know if you think the result will have any bearing on the 2010 Grand National.

  5. Neil says:

    I think that Cool Runnings look interesting if a huge price is available, as for the National, I’am not too sure at this stage, maybe something might emerge from this.

    Admin in your opening statement I notice you mention Monty’s Pass ran in this, personally I thought that 2 3/4 miles a bit short for a Grand National trial, but Monty did win a 3 miles race on route to winning his National.

  6. dave says:

    i thought ballyholland won well today. Am i right in thinking that come aintree in april he will be 9 y.o.? Thoughts welcome regarding quality of this win as i have got a funny feeling in my water and am keen to get on prior to him bolting home in the becher!!

  7. Neil says:

    Ballyholland trainer now as plans for the Becher’s Chase. However rating of 131 means he needs to improve by 5 pounds just to be with a shout of getting into a normal national. This doesn’t worry me as much as he never won over 3 miles plus. He had 2 tries and was held on both occasions, so unless he shows good form the right side of 3 milles I’d have to say that he won’t stay.

  8. dave says:

    thanks for that neil. perhaps i’ll keep my money in my pocket until he is proven over a trip.

  9. admin says:

    I also thought Ballyholland won well and with him likely to go up on his Irish rating by 7-10 pounds for yesterday’s win he would become a possible at the lower end of the weights for the National.
    However, as Neil has said, I would want to see some conclusive evidence that he gets at least three miles before seriously considering him.
    A recent well beaten fifth when brought over to run at Perth over 24f does not bode well nor does his pulled up in a 24f Hunter Chase. The most worrying for me was where he appeared to weaken over 23f Downpatrick in May 2008. On the plus side he has won two point to points over 24f but these races can often be run at a very slow pace so may not be a great indicator of stamina. However he looked to be finishing full of running at Galway and seemed to have plenty in hand over a very competitive field, especially given connections earlier concerns about his effectiveness on the ground.
    I’m not sure if Ballyholland’s breeding gives us much of a clue about his likely stamina as I must confess to not knowing much about his sire, Tiraaz. If anyone can shed any light on the NH performances of progeny of this sire please let me know – on first look he does look rather bred for the flat?
    I hope he does make it to the Becher though and at the very least the fact that he is taking that route does, I think, justify the Galway Plate as one of the races to note for the Grand National, albeit on a far lesser scale than some of the more obvious trials.
    The other more obvious National candidates didn’t seem to handle conditions very well yesterday and one possible horse for the future is Knock On The Head. A JP McManus horse with a pedigree that looks to have stamina in it – he is young enough at seven to build up into a realistic Aintree challenger if connections want to go that way.
    If anyone else has any thoughts on yesterday’s Galway Plate please let us know on this page.

  10. Neil says:

    Admin he might have won well, but a quick glance at the form suggests he beat non stayers and those that we know can stay ie Church Island didn’t handle the going/ course. In the national the seems to be more and more stayers.

  11. Neil says:

    Church Island didn’t run but Bother Na did sorry about the misinformation.

  12. Neil says:

    A little help needed here (from anyone who knows)
    Admin in the main section of the Grand National Guide you gave quite a few trial races for the National, very excellent too, but in my booklet it gaves a couple you don’t

    1 Anthony Mildmay/Peter Cazalet Memorial Chase at Sandown.

    2 Ritz Club Trophy Handicap Chase

    Does anyone know what has happen to these races. It also suggest the Racing Post Handicap Chase at Kempton.

  13. admin says:

    Hi Neil,

    As far as I am aware the Mildmay/Cazalet hasn’t been run for sometime and was replaced by the William Hill Marathon sometime around 2003 (I think!). I’m not sure but I think this has now become the London National that Kilbeggan Blade won in December. This might not be exactly right as the Mildmay/Cazalet used to be run in January.

    The Ritz Club is now the William Hill handicap at the Cheltenham Festival (same race just different sponsors) and opinion is divided as to how much of a National trial this race proves to be, although a number of Aintree candidates do tend to run in the race its close proximity to Aintree tends to lessen its sway on the big race.

    The Racing Post Chase is another race where opinion is divided as to the effect on the National but we are always open to suggestions and the races we look at with a view to the National is always up for debate and change. I will be examining our list as we update the site over the next couple of months so if anyone has any suggestions of races they would like to see covered please let me know.

  14. Neil says:

    Thanks for the information, didn’t know the was a london national but will keep my eyes peeled for that.
    The Ritz Club I sort of suspected to have changed to the William Hill.
    The Racing Post I’ve heard it’s an easy track to get 3 miles, so stamina might not come into play, but won’t hurt to keep track of the finishers there.

    Lastly and I know this won’t be every year but I remember backing Grittar (1982) and he took the Gold Cup itself as a prep race (finishing fifth). I think that this race might also be worth keeping tabs on. I know that the principles would have ran the race for this, but those who might not got too tied up at the business end might come on for the race.

  15. Neil says:

    Thinking about Cheltenham festival races as trial for the Grand National should be taken on a horse by horse biases as some would still be recovering from hard races.

  16. The Stayer says:

    Hello all,

    I was disappointed that Church Island wasn’t declared for The Plate the other day. The ground would have been fine for him and as I mentioned further up it was difficult to come from off the pace as 2 of the first 3 home were prominent throughout. I think he would have run a blinder.

    Not too sure what bearing the race will have on the National. Ballyholland won well but the National is almost another 2m further so I would want to see some evidence that he stays 3m at the very least before I could back him.

    As for the Cheltenham Festival, the gap between the two meetings is very important. This year the Gold Cup was run on Friday 13 March and the National was run on the 4th April, meaning at every horse running at Cheltenham had at least 3 weeks between races. It’s probably not a coincidence that Comply or Die and My Will, 2nd and 3rd, ran at Cheltenham and Mon Mome ran in the Midlands National the day AFTER the Gold Cup. In some years the gap is only 2 weeks and that extra week to recover probably makes a difference to horses having a hard race at Cheltenham.

    Note for next year that there is once again a 3 week gap so I wouldn’t put a line throught anything running at Cheltenham automatically. As Neil said, you really have to take it horse by horse. Some horses at the Festival will have harder races than others – some will be trying to win, others may be having a pipe-opener for Aintree. If a horse does have a hard race, what are it’s powers of recovery – some horses take racing better than others etc.

  17. Gammers says:

    On the Cheltenham point, I think they intend to maintain a 3 week gap in future where possible.

    Admin – I think I’ve posted this in an earlier chain as well, but the races I will be looking closely at myself (as tests of stamina or course form), from last GN onwards are;

    Topham Chase – Aintree – April; Irish National – Fairyhouse – April; Scottish National – Ayr – April; Sandown GC – Sandown – April; Eventus Chase – Punchestown – April; Summer National – Uttoxeter – June; Cork National – Cork – November; SCS Trophy Chase – Cheltenham – November; Sefton Chase – Aintree – November; Becher Chase – Aintree – November; Hennessey – Newbury – November; Porterstown Chase – Fairyhouse – November; Welsh National – Chepstow – December; Classic Chase – Warwick – January; Ulster National – Downpatrick – February; Haydock GC – Haydock – February; National Trial – Punchestown – February; Cheltenham GC – Cheltenham – March; Midlands National – Uttoxeter – March

  18. Neil says:

    Gammer your list looks quite extensive, but don’t forget our new course down in Wales,( Ffro Las).I said on another thread somewhere that if it likes Newbury in nature and the fences take some jumping (According to McCoy), then any staying chases ran on there would be worth adding to your list.

  19. admin says:

    Nice list Gammers.

    I’ll be trying to open up a thread about a week before each of these type of races so if one comes up and I haven’t set one up by all means give me a nudge and I’ll open a thread and have a look at the entries and who has won the race in the past.

  20. Neil says:

    Just one question about distance; if a horse has done three miles plus but in an hurdle not a chase would you still count in the stats as a stayer?

    This question is open to anyone as sometimes this as occured to me and I was just wondering how other people treat these horses when analysing the National

  21. Neil says:

    Hi admin, I know you say that on the Hello Bud thread about Mr Pointment not being in the National betting, well how about extending that to cover Paul Nichol’s yard. That way you can fit in Mr Pointment, Denman & Big Fella Thanks to name but a few.

  22. TC says:

    I think we can add another 2 from Nicholls’s yard in Dear Villez and Tricky Trickster. Dear Villez is a trend hitter, year too early for Tricky Trickster though i think