Breizh bids for Galway glory
Wood Breizh makes his second appearance at this year's Galway Festival in the feature Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle on Saturday.
A winner on the Flat at Tipperary at the start of the month, the Willie Mullins-trained grey lined up for the valuable Connacht Hotel Handicap on Monday evening and ran a fine race in defeat under Katie Walsh, passing the post in fourth place having led into the straight.
The five-year-old reverts to the jumping game on the penultimate day at Ballybrit and connections are hoping for another bold show, with Katie's brother Ruby booked for the mount.
Steve Massey, racing manager for owners the Supreme Horse Racing Club, said: "We were absolutely delighted with the way he ran on Monday and Katie gave him a cracking ride to get a good position from a wide draw.
"We thought he might win when he hit the front before the home turn, but he was just beaten by better horses on the day.
"The winner (Modem) is rated 134 over hurdles and Ted Veale, who finished third, came out and ran a cracking race to finish third in the Galway Hurdle on Thursday off a mark of 144.
"We've crept in at the bottom of the race on Saturday on 123, which is where I think you need to be this week. As long as the race on Monday hasn't taken too much out of him, we're expecting him to run a big race.
"It's great to have Ruby on board, we haven't had a winner at Galway before so it would be great if 'Woody' can break that duck this weekend."
Wood Breizh could be the champion trainer's only representative in the 20-strong field, with Valyssa Monterg and Argentino joining Edward Cawley's Forever Gold on the reserve list.
Leading owner JP McManus has four runners, with his newly appointed retained rider Barry Geraghty getting the leg up on Paul Webber's British challenger Cantlow.
The 10-year-old, last seen finishing sixth in the Irish Grand National, missed the cut for Wednesday's Galway Plate and instead runs over hurdles for the first time since April of last year.
Webber said: "We had hoped to get him into the Galway Plate, but unfortunately he missed out by three or four. Having missed that, this looks a nice spot for him as he might just be on a nice mark. We'll just have to see if the old engine is still there.
"Barry rides him, which is great. He's been at the Curragh for a couple of days and the reports are that he's in very good form. I think the trip will suit him and we're looking forward to running."
The Tom Mullins-trained Some Article carried the famous McManus silks to victory at the Punchestown Festival in the spring and is another major contender in the hands of Niall Madden.
"He seems in great form. He had a couple of weeks out in the field after Punchestown and then we brought him back in and he's fully fit and ready to go," said Mullins.
"He's going for a hat-trick and the ground is right for him. I just hope the track suits him."