Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
16/1 shot worth a punt in Wednesday's big race at the Galway Festival
Johnny Ward makes his selections for Galway Plate Day.

THE 2021 GALWAY Festival is here and racing journalist Johnny Ward brings you his picks for Wednesday’s racing along with the latest William Hill prices.

runners-and-riders-pass-the-finish-line-on-the-first-circuit Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Runners and riders on Day 1 at Ballybrit. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

Mares Handicap Hurdle, 4.35 Wednesday 

It’s clearly not the same at Galway with just 1,000 fans let in but the better weather will bring out the best in them on day three and I feel two horses are worth backing.

Peter Fahey has a decent chance of Galway Hurdle glory with Belfast Banter and he has an even better chance of winning the opening race on Wednesday.

The French-bred mare Butterflyvespiere, by Monmartre, won her maiden hurdle by 12 lengths at Downpatrick in June and shaped really well on her handicap debut at Sligo.

This should set her up perfectly for this, the Mares Handicap Hurdle (4.35).

Johnny’s tip: 

Butterflyvespiere to win (SP)

The Galway Plate, 6.15 Wednesday

Luke Dempsey has already ridden a winner in the Plate. Two years ago he rode Borice for Gordon Elliott and looks to have a fine each-way chance in the 2021 renewal (6.15) aboard Darasso.

I spoke to Joseph O’Brien about the plans for this horse when writing my antepost column last week and he said that a decision would be made late as to whether the horse would run in the Hurdle or the Plate. I am pretty confident connections have made the right choice.

The Hurdle is a race in which JP McManus has a formidable hand. He is not exactly badly off in this race either, as he has my selection, The Shunter, Off You Go, Top Moon, Modus and two reserves.

Darasso came over from France in 2018 and made an immediate impact in Ireland. He finished second to Bachasson and ran well behind Presenting Percy before winning two Graded races, one over hurdles and one over fences.

It was hard to believe he went nine races without winning afterwards, but he has very much turned it around this summer, winning at Killarney and Listowel before another cracking run when second to Galway Hurdle contender Sole Pretender at Tipperary.

This test looks perfect for him. He will be handy, jumps well and will relish the hill.

Johnny’s tip:

Darasso to win @ 16/1

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code H30. For all the latest prices, visit 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see    

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