Galway Festival: Dermot Weld with High hopes
There’s no let-up in Dermot Weld's latest quest to hoover up the prizes in Galway, as the master of Rosewell House returns to Ballybrit this evening when the featured Guinness Handicap is firmly in his sights with last summer's course winner Natural High.
Surprisingly, the track's most prolific trainer hasn't captured this Premier Handicap since 1993 — when Garboni did the business — and there's no shortage of fancied opponents for Pat Smullen's mount to overcome, such as Gimli's Rock and multiple scorer Aladdins Cave.
While it's difficult to overlook much-improved Aladdins Cave from Colm Murphy's yard on his favoured fast ground, the connections of Gimli's Rock are due a change of fortune after this versatile horse was denied a run in yesterday's Guinness Hurdle.
Jessica Harrington's charge was among her three reserves for the Guinness promotion and might have got a late call-up had the top-weight Luska Lad been withdrawn earlier in the afternoon due to the rapidly drying conditions underfoot.
That scenario could still work in favour of Keagan Latham's mount as the son of Rock Of Gibraltar has been running very well on the Flat since his Punchestown success over timber, most recently when leading in the pack behind Mark Johnston's Bay Willow at The Curragh on Derby day.
In spite of the sorry state of the economy, Galway continued to give Irish racing a welcome boost yesterday as more than 2,000 extra people from last year thronged the enclosure and wagered close on €4.2m between the bookmakers and the Tote.