McManus playing the numbers game with nine runners in Galway Hurdle
Guinness Galway Hurdle Handicap (Grade A) | 4yo+ | 2m | RTE2/ATR
JP McManus has set his heart on winning the 2018 Galway showpiece with nine of the 20 runners in Ireland's most valuable hurdle prize as he bids to win the race for the third time.
Successful with Thomas Edison (2014) and Tigris River a year ago, McManus' army of contenders are split between five trainers, with last year's winner among Joseph O'Brien's five runners for the leading owner.
McManus is also represented by Blazer, who is one of a six-strong Willie Mullins team.
Also among the McManus team are the Gavin Cromwell-trained Jer's Girl, the Jessica Harrington-trained Don't Touch It and Project Bluebook, sixth in the race a year ago for trainer John Quinn.
Project Bluebook is one of three British-trained challengers and is joined in the line-up by the Richard Newland-trained Leoncavallo and Iain Jardine-trained Bedrock, who ran on the Flat at the track on Monday.
Three British-trained horses have won the race, with Overturn's victory in 2010 being preceded by Rushmoor in 1986 and Sagaman in 1991.
Close but no cigar
Gordon Elliott, who has hit the crossbar many times in the race, runs Cartwright and The Game Changer as he bids to add the contest to his impressive haul of big handicap victories.
What they say
Willie Mullins, trainer of Sharjah, Good Thyne Tara, Whiskey Sour, Voix Du Reve, Blazer and Max Dynamite
This could be Max Dynamite's year. He was second in the race two years ago and ninth last year. He's in good order and Ruby [Walsh] picked him. He looks reasonably handicapped. Sharjah will like the ground and is in good form, but faces a tough task with top weight. Good Thyne Tara is an improving mare who goes on the ground. She's Paul [Townend]'s pick and is going there with a decent chance. Whiskey Sour showed how well he handles Galway by winning two Flat handicaps at the meeting a year ago. He has handicap experience too, having run third in the County Hurdle. Voix Du Reve won his last two races by big margins and appears to be improving. He's back into handicap company so we'll have to see how he gets on. Blazer was being aimed at the Plate but didn't get in, so this is a change of plan and he looks to be on an attractive mark.
Iain Jardine, trainer of Bedrock
He ran at Galway on Monday in a Flat race when he handled the track and finished off well after not getting the clearest of runs. Bruce [Lynn], who rode him, has stayed over looking after him and says he's come out of it really well. We've put a lot of thought into this and, although it's a tough race and we can't be confident, we're hopeful. We've booked Denis O'Regan, who has won the race before and is unreal on the big occasions.
John Joe Walsh, trainer of Davids Charm
He ticks plenty of boxes. The only worry is that the weights have gone up a lot. We can't do anything about that and, although he has climbed a lot in the ratings, I think he has more improvement in him. I've minded him for this race for a long time and he's in good order. He's coming off two good runs on the Flat and will like the ground. He stays well, which you need to come up the Galway hill. We're very hopeful and all we need now is a bit of luck.
Gavin Cromwell, trainer of Jer's Girl
She’s fit and ready to go. She’s actually been ready to go for a while but we’ve been waiting for an ease in the ground, so she obviously won’t mind the rain that’s fallen. She’s in great form and we’re hopeful of a good run.
Richard Newland, trainer of Leoncavallo
It's a massive ask as only one English-trained horse has won the race in over 25 years. But he's in very good nick and we've waited for this. The owners have all gone over and hopefully he'll give them something to shout about.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of The Game Changer and Cartwright
I couldn't be happier with Cartwright. He's in super form and will love the ground. He's got a nice weight and ran a blinder when second on the Flat last time. The Game Changer would have an outside chance on his best form but he's a bit in-and-out and the rain they've had won't help.
John Quinn, trainer of Project Bluebook
He ran well in the race last year but he was a novice then and it all happened a little bit quick for him, although he coped well with the track. He's in good form and won't mind the bit of ease in the ground, so I expect him to run a good race.
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com