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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Returning Walsh heads top jump jockey list for Galway festival

Ruby Walsh: favourite to be top jump jockey at Galway
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Ruby Walsh, who returns from injury having been out of action with a fractured leg since March at Galway on Monday, is 11-10 favourite with Ladbrokes to be the leading jumps jockey at the seven-day festival.

However, the multiple champion jockey won't streak ahead on the first day as his only ride is the Willie Mullins-trained hot favourite Easy Game in the opening novice hurdle.

In behind Walsh, Ladbrokes go 4-1 Davy Russell, 5-1 Barry Geraghty, 6-1 Patrick Mullins and 8-1 about both Paul Townend and Mark Walsh.

Nicola McGeady of Ladbrokes said on Sunday: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder and with Ruby Walsh making his much anticipated comeback this week, punters couldn't wait to back him being top jockey at the Galway Festival.

"Willie Mullins is even shorter to be the toast of Ballybrit and is 2-5 to be leading trainer for the third year in a row with many putting him in a double with Ruby."

Joseph O'Brien: second favourite behind Willie Mullins for the leading trainer award

Ladbrokes make Joseph O'Brien 5-2 second favourite for the trainers title with Dermot Weld at 5-1.

Donnacha O'Brien, who tops the table in the race to be Ireland's champion jockey this season, is 4-5 with the same firm to be leading Flat jockey, ahead of Declan McDonogh at 15-8 and Colin Keane (9-2).

Paddy Power, who cut McDonogh to 9-4 (from 7-2) to be top Flat jockey, reported interest in Rachael Blackmore to top the jump riders' list when the festival ends on Sunday. "She's a 33-1 shot with us but she's not without support," spokesman Paul Binfield said.

David Jennings's view

Declan McDonogh at 9-4 with a number of firms looks good value to be top Flat jockey at the festival.

With Pat Smullen unfortunately out of action this season, McDonogh will have plenty of rides for Dermot Weld and that is usually a bonus at Galway.

Declan McDonogh (left): can have a big Galway festival

He rides Ballybrit very well and has a good record over the course having won the big mile handicap in 2016 and again last year. Furthermore, he's sure to pick up good outside rides when he is not required by Weld. 

Willie Mullins is very short to be top trainer for the week – and there is good reason for it – so the Flat jockey category is the place to look and McDonogh strikes me as the value bet.

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Ruby Walsh is 11-10 favourite with Ladbrokes to be leading jump jockey at Galway
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