The Galway Hurdle (Thursday 1 August, 4.55pm) is the highlight of the fourth day of Galway’s Summer Festival. It is a handicap run over 2 miles and 11 yards and it is open to horses aged four and older.
It was established in 1913 and recent winners have included Quick Jack, Tigris River, Clondaw Warrior, and Sharjah.
Galway Hurdle 10-Year-Trends
6-year-olds have the best record with six wins in the last 10 years, with one 5-year-old, two 7-year-olds, and one 9-year-old also being successful. All 10 winners have been rated between 130 and 146, with the last three winners rated 143, 140, and 146. No winner has carried more than 11-7 to victory.
Six winners had won on their previous outing over jumps, with one finishing second, two third, and one eighth. Winners had run between 11 and 89 days prior to winning this big prize. Trainers Willie Mullins, A J Martin, and Michael Winters have all won the race twice in the last 10 years. Seven winners were returned at no bigger than 7/1, with the other three returned at 12/1, 20/1, and 20/1.
Galway Hurdle Runner-By-Runner Guide
5-year-old who has won his last 3 starts off marks ranging from 109 to 137. Up another 10lb here but it’s impossible to dismiss him despite him having to concede weight to some potentially useful rivals.
Last seen when finishing third at 25/1 in the 2018 Triumph Hurdle, a race where none of the horses around him have particularly advertised the form. Could have improved since but jockey bookings suggest he’s not the number one hope from the Willie Mullins yard.
Course and distance winner over hurdles but he was only fourth at the Punchestown Festival off a 3lb lower mark. This strong flat stayer may also be better over further over hurdles in the future.
Won over 21 furlongs at the 2017 Galway Festival but finished in midfield last year’s Galway Hurdle when backed into 11/2. 1lb lower this time but he may be better over further.
Strong travelling type that warmed up by finishing second in a maiden on the flat three weeks ago. Could be ideally suited to a strongly run two-mile handicap over jumps.
Band Of Outlaws
Many judges thought this miler on the flat wouldn’t stay two miles over hurdles, but he won at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Not as good since, but he’s another horse that has the natural speed to excel in a quickly run Galway Hurdle.
Has picked up a variety of nice races in his career but most of have been over slightly longer distances. The handicapper has given him a chance, but he may find a few with more natural speed.
Would be a certainty if he could translate his 110+ flat form to hurdles but he’s never looked the most natural jumper. Paul Townend would surely be on board if he’d been showing the right signs at home.
Regular visitor to the Galway Festival but he has normally raced on the flat. However, he has run some good races on right-handed tracks over hurdles and looks to have been laid out for this by his dual-race winning trainer Tony Martin.
Hearts Are Trumps
He’s significantly higher than his last winning mark and, though he’s a few pounds better off with Tudor City from when they last met, he looks more exposed than some of his rivals.
Pearl Of The West
Course winner who is 6lb higher than his last winning mark, and he finished fourth of that mark last time. Could run well without obviously having anything in hand of the handicapper.
Gardens Of Babylon
Well-bred former flat horse that has run well in all six of his runs over hurdles including when third in this year’s Triumph Hurdle. He could enjoy this speed test.
Has run well on three of his four previous visits to Galway but he’s 9lb higher than for his win at Down Royal two starts ago and there’s nothing in the form book that suggests he can defy today’s mark.
Play The Game
Not particularly consistent but was a ready winner of a handicap hurdle last time. The handicapper has raised him for that win but this 100+ rated horse on the flat could still find more improvement over obstacles.
The choice of Paul Townend from the Willie Mullins quartet but the market seems to be judging him on his easy win a four-runner race over further last time. He was poor the time before that and his second at Down Royal three starts ago behind Golden Spear needs improving on.
The King Of Brega
Won twice at Thurles over the winter but has struggled after being hit by a significant rise form the handicapper.
Garo De Juilley
On a higher mark than his last win over further and he may not be suited by the drop-in-trip.
Gone up 17lb for two wins and three places in his last five runs and this looks a big step-up in class for him.
Raised 17lb for two wins this year and that seemed to stop him when only fourth last time.
Raised 9lb for a win in December and he’s struggled in less competitive handicaps since.
Galway Hurdle Verdict 2019
A first prize of €176,999 means plenty of trainers will have had an eye on this race for a while. Willie Mullins is one of those and all four of his quartet have the potential to win, without being standout bets.
Joseph O’Brien’s 4-year-old Band Of Outlaws and Garden Of Babylon have chances but 4-year-olds don’t have a great record in the race. Tudor City and Golden Spear are also respected for Tony Martin but don’t appear to hold any secrets from the handicapper.
That’s why the unexposed 6-year-old Chosen Mate is preferred, and this strong traveller is fancied to give Gordon Elliott his face win in the race with his only runner this year.