The Tote Galway Plate takes place on Wednesday afternoon and is the feature chase contested at the Galway Festival. An often fascinating race lives up to expectations in 2022, and our Racing Editor has delved into this year’s field providing his in-depth guide to the race. Check out their thoughts below, along with an exclusive 888sport offer, which provides £30 in Free Bets + a £10 Casino Bonus to new customers.
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Mullins Heads the Market, but Not That One
A pair of Mullins runners head this year’s Galway Plate market, but rather than Willie Mullins, it is Grand National winning trainer Emmet who bookmakers feel holds the aces with the likes of Cape Gentleman and The Shunter.
The former hasn’t been seen since a fall in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase last November, but he’s run well fresh in the past and appeared to show a liking for this track when third in the Galway Hurdle twelve months ago.
The Shunter hasn’t quite gone on from his incredible 2020/21 campaign, but it’s notable that his best performance last season came when a close fourth in this race, and he runs off the same mark of 152 here. He was a winner of a maiden on the flat at Sligo when last seen in May.
Second Season Chasers to Note
Second-season chasers have a decent recent record in the Galway Plate and in the likes of Fire Attack and Gabynako, there is every chance that trend will continue in 2022.
Fire Attack represents 2020 Galway Plate-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien, and he’s 2-4 in a brief career over fences, justifying favouritism to land a 2m5f handicap chase at Punchestown last time out. He’s unexposed and therefore more than capable of defying a 7lb rise, but whether he wants ground this quick is a concern and it’s questionable as to whether his jumping will stand up to this test.
Gavin Cromwell’s decision to supplement Gabynako for last season’s Arkle proved justified with a creditable second, and the 7yo followed that run up with a third at the Punchestown Festival. He’ll appreciate this good ground and won’t have any issues with the track, but a mark of 155 looks plenty high enough.
Elliott Chasers Seek Four-timer
That old adage of making hay whilst the sun shines has proven true for Gordon Elliott, who’s sent out Ash Tree Meadow and Hurricane Georgie to win their last three starts, and he’ll be hoping that one of that pair can bring up the four-timer in the Galway Plate.
Ash Tree Meadow wasted little time hurdling and the switch to chasing has proven justified with his record now 3-4 over the larger obstacles, all three victories coming as the favourite. This larger field and jump in class obviously demand more from Ash Tree Meadow, but in his current mood, he’s a dangerous horse to rule out.
Hurricane Georgie has been mixing over both hurdles and fences this summer to great success, building on a couple of hurdles victories when bolting up in the Midlands National at Kilbeggan earlier this month. The handicapper has taken no chances by hiking her up 11lb for that victory, but she’ll love this ground and it’s particularly interesting that Jack Kennedy keeps the partnership intact.
Put simply, the Galway festival is Ireland’s biggest annual sporting event. Much like the Melbourne Cup does in Australia, the Galway Festival brings the west coast and much of the country to a standstill as people flock to Ballybrit in search of experiencing something truly unique to Ireland. Galway races are evident all year round, but the seven day extravaganza which begins at the end of July, trumps the other meetings at not only Galway, but pretty much everywhere else in the country. The track itself is more or less rectangular in shape and is a sharp, right-handed course with a two furlong uphill finish. The Galway Hurdle is the biggest race at the festival is worth 260,000 Euro to the winner, although the Galway Plate isn’t far behind in terms of stature. Galway is a course to enjoy at any time but for the festival just take a day or two off – pull a sickie, do what you must, but at some stage you must go to Galway to experience the truly outstanding festival.
Seasoned Pros Aim for More Big-race Glory
The likes of Castlegrace Paddy, Battleoverdoyen and Notebook know plenty about the game, and whilst they admittedly wouldn’t be considered the forces of old each runner has the potential to play a part here if bringing their A-game.
Castlegrace Paddy has spent the majority of his career contesting graded chases over 2m, but he’s upped to an extended 2m6f here for the first time under rules. A winner of a Killarney maiden on the flat last time, Castlegrace Paddy clearly arrives here in good form, but others rate more likely winners of this contest.
Battleoverdoyen is a former Grade 1 winning chaser, and he’s 2-3 here at Galway, but he could only muster 13th (beaten 55l) in this contest 12 months ago and a 7lb lower mark isn’t enough to make him of interest this time around.
Notebook, once favourite for the Arkle, tends to save his wins for when fresh nowadays, and although a mark of 150 is certainly workable on his peak form, he doesn’t look the force of old.
Galway Plate Verdict
A typically competitive renewal of the Galway Plate and simply put, Emmet Mullins appears to hold the aces here with Cape Gentleman and THE SHUNTER, the latter marginally preferred. He finished a fine fourth in this very race 12 months ago, despite suffering a little trouble in running in the middle part of his race. J P McManus’s gelding runs off the same mark of 152 here, and he prepped for this with an impressive Sligo maiden victory. Stablemate Cape Gentleman hasn’t been seen since falling in the Drinmore back in November, but he was a close-up third in the Galway Hurdle here last year and shapes like a horse with more to give, he can provide his trainer with a memorable 1-2 in the Galway Plate. Ash Tree Meadow has been doing his winning at a lower level than this, but he’s progressing at a rate of knots and can grab third for Gordon Elliott and owners Alymer Stud.
- THE SHUNTER
- Cape Gentleman
- Ash Tree Meadow