O’Brien holds a strong hand at Galway

Galway selections Monday 26th July

A big week for racing with Galway starting this evening and Goodwood tomorrow. The traditional lead contest at Galway is the QR Handicap for which a talented hurdler can take advantage of a low flat rating. Joseph O’Brien could be the man to follow in the preceding contest.

Galway 5.45: Merroir & Mandarin

Joseph O’Brien holds a strong hand in this 12f handicap.

MERROIR is a fast improving filly and has been winning on all types of ground. A soft going winner at Gowran in April, she probably failed to stay the extended 2m at Killarney when fourth. Since then though she has run a fine second to Forbearance in Down Royal. That filly is now rated 99 after finishing third in a Group 3.

Merroir herself is now up to 77 after winning on fast ground at Ballinrobe last month. There should be yet more to come from this filly and she had a decent draw near the rail.

MANDARIN is an interesting recruit to the yard. At the age of seven, he has hardly been purchased with the long-term in mind. His first run for the yard will have blown away the cobwebs but he is thrown in on the best of his old form in the UK. Formerly rated as high as 93 in 2019, he has dropped to 73 now and a sharp 12f is probably his ideal circumstances.

Galway 6.15: Zoffanien

ZOFFANIEN has yet to race on the flat in Ireland, having been bought from France after a handful of runs. However he has raced with great distinction over hurdles and could make use of a mark 59lbs below his hurdles rating.

He did win a modest handicap at Dax on his last run in France, but improved out of all recognition on his last few starts in the winter. He won his first handicap by 9l over hurdles at Naas in February and then ran respectably at Cheltenham despite a poor round of jumping. After winning another handicap at Ballinrobe, he finished off the season with a fine fourth in the Grade 1 at Punchestown.

He has had a nice break since and seems effective on all surfaces. Whilst drawn wide, that has not been a big disadvantage in recent seasons in this race and in Barry O’Neill he has one of the most experienced pilots on board. I think he is the right type for this race in that he is likely to be held up for a late run, so the wide draw may not be an issue anyway.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Merroir – 5.45 Galway – 7/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 5)

0.5pts each-way – Mandarin – 5.45 Galway – 8/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Zoffanien – 6.15 Galway – 5/1 Skybet, Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 6)

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