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Galway Hurdle preview

Ah, the Galway Festival.... Will it rain? Yes. Will Dermot Weld clean up? Yes. Will there be a gazillion pints of Guinness consumed? Undoubtedly. One of the highlights of the seven-day Galway Festival is the Galway Hurdle. Casting an eye over the field is blog regular Lara Pocock, @lara_pocock.

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Galway Hurdle

The Galway Festival does seem to be never ending but Thursday's card looks to be a good one, with a full field of 20 horses set to line up for the two-mile Galway Hurdle, worth €156,000 to the winner. The currently ground at Galway is perfect for summer jumping and was rated good on Wednesday afternoon prior to the day's racing.

Last year's race was won by the Michael Winters-trained Rebel Fitz, with previous winners including the popular Donald McCain-trained Overturn.

Top weight on Thursday has been allocated to the Gordon Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes, who is one of three runners for the Calpranny-based trainer. Irish Champion Trainer Willie Mullins holds a number of aces, with a quarter of the field from his stable, including the post-race joint-favourite Pique Sous.

Pique Sous has won six of his 12 starts, including the Grade Two Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse on 1 April over two miles on ground described as yielding. He comes into this race off a third to fellow joint-favourite and Grade Three County Hurdle winner Ted Veale, in a conditions race over a mile and a half at Bellewstown on 6 July, with ground good-to-firm that day.

I think Pique Sous is the pick of the two, he will carry 10-10 and holds some good form, with a sixth in the Grade One Supreme Novices' Hurdle his only run to date out the placings. Ted Veale, who carries 11-3, was second to Jezki in the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle at Puncestown in April but the margin was 16 lengths in soft going.

The 16-1 chance Cause Of Causes was just behind Pique Sous in the Supreme Novices, finishing seventh. He has had two starts over fences with shaky form and having to lumber top weight here, is best looked at another day. My pick of the Elliott runners is the four-year-old Flaxen Flare, a winner at Cheltenham in March of the Grade Three Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and fourth when stepping up to Grade One company at Aintree, he is off the very tasty weight of 10-3 with Davy Condon onboard, 16-1 is too bigger price for him here. The other runner from that stable, Shadow Catcher, was fourth behind Ted Veale at Cheltenham but has had five starts since, winning at Down Royal over two miles in June but could be showing the toil for that in this race.

The English raiders are always highly regarded at the Galway meeting but this race is lacking an international flair. However Sam Twiston-Davies will partner Fosters Cross, who despite being an 11-year-old has some good form, winning twice this year and another off 10-10. He could be a good each-way shot if he can up run to his best form.

Another English pilot, Champion Jockey Tony McCoy, is always worth following and he partners J P McManus' Thomas Edison, who was second in a maiden on the flat on his latest run and beat Champagne Fever at Leopardstown in December 2011. His form has been rather in and out since but he looks to have been primed for this race and he is my pick for the top spot. He carries 10-6 and is currently available at 12-1.

Of the others I like Missunited, a Michael Winters-trained six-year-old mare has won eight of 20 races and is a 10-1 shot. Her best run to date came a Grade Three novice event at Limerick in March and she is off 10-8 in this race

1. Thomas Edison
2. Pique Sous
3. Flaxen Flare


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