Top-notch action goes only some way to masking big void at Ballybrit
The marriage is just about intact. Like an old couple who are staying together purely for the kids, Galway has gone ahead for all of the right reasons but, without crowds, it has lacked spark.
Tony Mullins did his best to breathe life into the meeting on Monday when Princess Zoe took the big amateur riders' handicap.
However, it wasn't long after the race that Mullins was left lamenting that his old partner, long-standing owner Paddy Kehoe, was not there to see Princess Zoe take the Monday feature.
Kehoe will not be at Galway on Saturday, nor will owners be on a racecourse in Ireland for the foreseeable future, but Mullins will be back, as will his rapidly improving mare, and that's what matters most for now.
If Princess Zoe is successful in the Galway Shopping Centre Handicap, she will be charting a familiar path, as Tony's brother Willie recorded the same Galway double a few seasons back with Whiskey Sour.
One thing we know for certain, Willie will not be continuing his fine record in the race and goes unrepresented for a change, but competition remains high in the Mullins household.
Tony could have plenty to fear yet from his brother Tom, doubly represented with Excelcius and Takarengo, who is a lot better than what he showed behind Princess Zoe on Monday.
It is a rare breed that can do the full week in the west and, for different reasons, this year's week-long festival has taken getting.
There has been some terrific action on track but, if ever a meeting drilled home that racing without crowds is a soulless experience, the Galway 2020 fixture did just that.
Time will dictate how memorable the opening two maidens will be while the extended mile handicap (4.15) provides the superbly bred Innervisions with a chance to open her account for Willie McCreery, who knows the family better than most, having trained the dam Fiesolana.
For more than 150 years, Galway has been the place where memories have been made and friendships forged.
The meeting will leave a very different mark this year and all we can hope is that the carefree days of the past will return once again at Ballybrit.
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