Pointers for the Galway Plate as Ruby looks to shine on Shaneshill
TheTote.com Galway Plate Handicap Chase | 4yo+ | 2m6f111yds | RTE1/ATR
Ruby Walsh, on the trail of a third Galway Plate win, has picked Shaneshill from a five-strong Willie Mullins team despite the eight-year-old being the least experienced chaser of the Mullins quintet.
Shaneshill is two from four over fences but has not run in a chase since finishing second to Blaklion in the RSA at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.
Andrea and Graham Wylie's versatile performer has been kept busy over hurdles and won the Prix la Barka at Auteuil in May before finishing third in the French Champion Hurdle.
Mullins, who achieved his only Plate win with Blazing Tempo in 2011, said: "Shaneshill has done well over hurdles and we thought it was worth reverting to fences and giving him a shot at such a big prize."
Scoundrel out to lord it again
Ansar, in 2004 and 2005, was the last back-to-back winner of the race and Lord Scoundrel, one of two runners for Gordon Elliott, will be attempting to emulate him.
Elliott said: "We've trained him for another tilt at the race and, like last year, he's going into it following a break.
"His preparation has gone well but he's gone up in the weights since last year and we're putting up James Bowen, who claims 7lb."
Bryan Cooper, seeking a first Plate win, partners A Toi Phil for Gigginstown House Stud, who dispensed with his services as number one jockey last week.
Elliott added: "A Toi Phil is a Grade 2 winner over fences and also won the Leopardstown Chase last season, so he has plenty going for him. He's going there in very good order."
Back chasing riches
Winner of the race three years ago, Road To Riches is back for a third tilt at the prize and with a clean bill of health after being found to have dislocated his spleen.
His trainer Noel Meade said: "He used to be hard to hold but he's more settled and laid back now. He seems to be back in very good form and hopefully he'll produce a big run."
Balko heads De Bromhead team
Successful with Shanahan's Turn two years ago. Henry de Bromhead has the biggest team in this year's Plate.
Balko Des Flos is the shortest-priced of his six runners, which may be seven if third reserve On Fiddlers Green, who could go off favourite, gets in. De Bromhead said of Balko Des Flos: “He’s fresh and well following a break and 10st 10st looks a nice weight. He’s in good form and we’re looking forward to a good run.”
Weld hoping Kingdoms rules
Dermot Weld has been successful in the race on four occasions, most recently in 2005, when Ansar scored for the second consecutive year. He is represented by Three Kingdoms, tenth in the race 12 months ago and a 33-1 shot when winning at the Curragh on his most recent start.
Weld said: "Three Kingdoms is very well and won well on the Flat last time.
"He's a very good jumper but he's a typical summer chaser who loves really good ground, so we don't want any more rain for him."
What they say
Willie Mullins, trainer of Ballycasey, Alelchi Inois, Shaneshill, Arbre De Vie, Haymount
Ballycasey has plenty of weight and wouldn't want any more rain. He was third in the race a year ago, but the trip probably stretches him to his limit. Alelchi Inois was second last year but his recent form has been disappointing and we're just hoping being back at Galway might ignite him. Arbre De Vie hasn't won over fences but has shown some decent form and we thought it worth letting him take his chance. Haymount was running over longer trips towards the end of last season, finishing third in the four-miler at Cheltenham and seventh in the Irish National. We're hoping dropping him back in trip will suit.
Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Devils Bride, Sadler's Risk, Balko Des Flos, Marinero, Deans Road and Heron Heights
Devils Bride was fourth a year ago and ran well at Killarney last month. He seems in good form. Sadler's Risk was a bit disappointing last time but seems in good form again and was third two years ago. Marinero was disappointing in the Midlands National at Kilbeggan but we've tried blinkers on him at home and they seem to have sharpened him. Deans Road won well at Listowel and is in great form, while Heron Heights, who was unlucky last time, is in good order and should like the track.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Ballybolley
He’s been quite high in the weights since his win at Haydock in April but was going very well when he fell three out at Uttoxeter last time. It’s a valuable race and the money is not to be sneezed at. As long as he travels over okay he should run well.
Joseph O'Brien, trainer of Slowmotion
She's in great form and has a lovely weight [10st 6lb], but it will be her first time in such a competitive race, so it's probably a big ask as she's only five.
Charles Byrnes, trainer of Shanpallas
He ran okay over hurdles last time and is in good form. We wouldn't want any more rain though.
Shay Barry, trainer of Bentelimar
He's in good form and I'm expecting a good run. He's got bottom weight and I think the trip will bring out the best in him. More rain wouldn't bother him.