©INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Starter's Orders

Mark your Card: Ladies' Day in Galway

It’s not all about the fancy frocks though – we have a look at the runners and riders in the day’s feature, the Galway Hurdle.

APART FROM THE throngs of glammed-up ladies, the feature event on day four at Ballybrit is the Galway Hurdle, with 20 runners going to post at 16:50.

The run-up to today’s 2m handicap has been dominated by the controversy surrounding Edward O’Grady’s The Real Article who has been allowed to remain in the race despite a Turf Club inquiry into his controversial second-place finish in Tipperary 11 days ago.

With a staggering 18 pounds to spare over top weight Captain Cee Bee, the six-year-old has been heavily backed in the morning market, touching 3/1 favouritism in places. Although a proven performer over two miles, doubts about his staying power remain, particularly in a field as competitive as this.

In a wide-open contest, there are plenty of opportunities to snag some decent each-way value, none more so than Dessie Hughes’ Action Master, widely available at odds of 20/1. Jockey Bryan Cooper claims a valuable three pounds on this consistent sort who scored a three-length victory over Won In The Dark at Punchestown in May. Since then, he has been raced on the flat by connections in order to protect his handicap, and he is certainly situated at the right end of the weights to make a challenge.

As is David Pipe’s Street Entertainer, who has travelled over from England specifically for this contest. The form from his four-length win at Punchestown looks impressive, with both the second- and the third-placed horses going on to record victories since. At four-years-old though, age and inexperience may count against him in only his second handicap hurdle outing.

Of all the contenders, perhaps preference should be for Jessica Harrington’s Gimlis Rock who appears to have found quite a bit of support among punters this morning. This son of Rock of Gibraltar won four times last year, most notably in a Group 2 hurdle at Down Royal. Reverting to the flat last time out, he won a 1m4f handicap at The Curragh, coming home four lengths ahead of Fosters Cross, who is hoping to make it a festival double this afternoon following his win in Monday’s feature handicap.

Elsewhere on the card, the markets suggest that the Guinness Novice Chase (14:25) could turn into a match between Alpine Eagle and Black Jack Blues as Tony McCoy and Barry Geraghty go head to head. Darenjan was a winner over fences last time out as well and shouldn’t be discounted, while Noel Meade will be hopeful that Gracchus can make the frame.

The novice hurdle (16:10) is another tough puzzle, with Dermot Weld’s Endless Intrigue sure to slug it out with Tavern Times and Bideford Legend for supremacy. Keep an eye out for Mick Halford’s Moncherie though, who has crept in under the radar with Paul Townend on board.

Nap of the day

We’re going for Dermot Weld’s Teach Nua (5/2) in the mile-and-a-half flat Arthur’s Legacy Handicap (17:30), who has been drawn and handicapped ideally and should improve on his sixth-place finish at Fairyhouse at the beginning of the month.

Each way

Gimlis Rock (14/1) in the Galway Hurdle. A value bet in a race which might be better analysed by sticking a pin in the race card.

With thanks to reader Declan Smyth for his contribution to this article.

READ - Who the hell is Sergio Aguero? >

READ - Funny business: what’s Tiger really up to? >