Thursday 9 February 2023 Dublin: 2°C
3 tips to consider for the Galway Races on Thursday
Johnny Ward shares his picks as the Galway Hurdle takes centre stage.

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

virginie-bascop-and-saldier-on-the-gallops Morgan Treacy / INPHO Saldier on the gallops. Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

The Galway Hurdle, 6.15 Thursday 

It’s Guinness Galway Hurdle day at Ballybrit and, with a total prize fund of €300,000, the two-mile test is the most valuable National Hunt race in the calendar.

This morning, I went down yet another internet rabbit hole, reviewing Sabadilla’s 2003 win in the race over Cloone River. Initially I was trying to figure out when a County Galway trainer last won the race, as Norman Lee attempts on Thursday, and that was Pat Kelly in 1995.

You end up on Wikipedia and forget why you were there in the first place.

Sabadilla came to mind because my late friend John Walsh, who pretty much introduced me to racing, had backed him at a big price. Sabadilla snared the race rated 115, beating the following year’s winner, Cloone River. When Cloone River won the race, only one horse in it was rated higher than 133.

What a different race we have now. In the 2021 renewal, the 137-rated Hearts Are Trumps, second in the Galway Hurdle last year, can’t even get in!

This is a much classier race and I’ll put forward two horses in the 20-runner extravaganza.

William Hill is paying six places so, even if it is really competitive, there is a good case to be made for having a wager.

Saldier at 11/1 is the class act in the race. He was sent off 15/8 in a 15-runner Royal Ascot handicap off 103 last time so he must have every chance of going off much shorter here.

Willie and Patrick Mullins have snared two of the last three runnings with a top weight and if there are concerns about the high-class hurdler’s speed, cheekpieces are surely added with that in mind.

At the bottom of the weights, Magic Tricks is also interesting in first-time cheekpieces. A brother to Abacadabras, also trained by Denise Foster, he’s lightly raced and warmed up for this with a cracking run on the Flat.

Johnny’s tips: 

Saldier to win @ 11/1 and Magic Tricks to win @ 15/2

Handicap Hurdle, 6.45 Thursday 

Brides Hill is a half-sister to four winners and, by Dylan Thomas, likely got bogged down on the ground last time. She’s a major player on her gambled-on second at Downpatrick and she’s done very little racing. She can take the Arthur Guinness Handicap Hurdle (6.45).

Johnny’s tip: 

Brides Hill to win (12/1) 

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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