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Mark your Card: Day five at the Galway Races

Niall’s naps came home on Wednesday and Thursday. Find out who he has plumped for on today’s card in Galway.

Image: ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

THE MAIN EVENTS in Ballybrit may have come and gone, but we’ve still got three more days of racing out West to look forward to.

Today’s feature is the Guinness Handicap (18:50), a flat contest over a mile-and-a-half with 16 runners set to go to post.

Aidan O’Brien’s Obligation leads the early betting. The three-year-old impressed last autumn with a win and three placings from four maiden outings before falling far short after a step up in class for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud in France. He has been put away since then, but shouldn’t have too much to find among today’s company.

After another busy season over hurdles, Eddie O’Grady’s Jumbo Rio returns to the flat. The six-year-old has only finished outside the places on three of his 15 flat starts, earning himself a rating of 92 and a place at the top end of the weights in the process.

Another contender who has seen herself propelled up the weights is Noel Meade’s Leceile, who has been saddled with an extra 13 pounds as a result of her four-and-a-half length victory at Naas in June. That win was perhaps the first indication that she is capable of recapturing the form of two seasons ago when she impressed as a three-year-old.

Towards the bottom of the handicap are a couple of contenders who will surely catch the punters’ eyes this afternoon. Honey of a Kitten is the Dermot Weld representative and will find friends as a result, although today’s race is expected to be too stern a test for this out of sorts type.

John Oxx’s Dawariya, however, sets off in search of a third successive victory following wins at Ballinrobe and Leopardstown in recent weeks. The handicapper has landed her with another eight pounds and, though she could go close with slight improvement, there is a slight worry about how she will handle the extra weight in a stronger field.

Elsewhere on the card, the “King of Ballybrit” could add to his eight festival winners as early as the first race, the Guinness Handicap Hurdle (17:10) over 2m2f. Rainforest Magic, winner of Tuesday’s Topaz Handicap, is lurking in the middle of the weights but at the head of the betting. With only three starts under his belt, he has no real hurdle form to speak of, but this may be one of those occasions where the trainer’s judgement should be trusted.

Or perhaps it is one of the JP McManus quartet which will fare best. Par Five was a beaten favourite when third to Fearnwood Girl in Sligo at the beginning of the month, though it is very likely that the extra two furlongs will work to his advantage today. Reverting to the smaller obstacles after a decent chasing spell, the Christy Roche-trained Good Decision is lingering towards the bottom of the weights and could be one to watch.

The withdrawal of Catamount from the Guinness Auction Maiden (17:40) has left Tommy Stack’s Makalali as the prohibitive favourite and the one whom they will all have to beat. If on form, Kingdomofthebride has the potential to put in a challenge and could sneak a tight contest.

Nap of the day

In what is likely to be a close contest, Kingdomofthebride (9/4) represents value to triumph over Makalali who might not improve as expected.

Each way

The runners for the Guinness Handicap are quite closely bunched at the top of the market, but Jumbo Rio (8/1) is tipped to run into a 14th successive placing on the flat.

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Niall Kelly

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