A poignant story that all in racing can get behind in Saturday's Galway feature
There may be only 1,000 spectators permitted to attend the penultimate day of the Galway festival but expect a huge reaction if Morph Speed plunders the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap (4.20).
This is a horse – and a story – everyone can get behind. Trained by Richard O'Brien, the five-year-old would be the most poignant of winners of the €100,000 prize as he carries the colours of Catherine Hassett, the wife of popular breeze-up consignor Johnny, who is undergoing lifesaving lung cancer treatment in Germany.
The racing community has rallied around Hassett in recent weeks and a sensational fundraising campaign exceeded the goal of €250,000 to help pay for his treatment. At the time of writing on Friday afternoon, almost €275,000 had been raised, which is a tremendous effort.
In the first update to his Twitter account, The Bloodstock Connection, for more than a month, Hassett offered some encouragement on Friday that his treatment has "gone the right way", while still awaiting a scan in eight weeks and feeling some tiredness.
Everyone in racing has been rooting for him during his difficult time and that support will surely extend to Morph Speed, who is no back number as the winner of this season's Cork Derby.
If you do happen to back a few winners this weekend, have no doubt any donation to the dedicated GoFundMe page would be welcomed.
The final two days of Galway's week-long extravaganza may not be considered as enticing as the highlights earlier in the week, but that doesn't mean green shoots won't emerge. Group 1 heroine Princess Zoe produced an awesome display in the 1m4f feature 12 months ago, while Sirjack Thomas, who provided Ado McGuinness with a third consecutive Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap on Tuesday, also managed to get on the scoresheet in a handicap on this card in 2020.
In 2019, top-level performers Alpine Star and Santiago came home first and second in the 7f Irish EBF Auction Series Maiden (3.13).
The race appears to lack the same depth this time but trainer Jessica Harrington could hold the key again with promising filly Nectaris, who benefits from having already made two starts this season.
Dermot Weld has had two winners, four seconds and three thirds from 11 runners this week and has six representatives on Saturday – of whom, Sherkin Island and Barud make the most appeal.
We're on the home stretch – reaching the top of the hill – but excitement can always lie in store at Galway, no matter how late it is.
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