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Andy Oliver wants some more Galway glory

By Richard Forristal

Andy Oliver will look to follow up his opening night success when he contests this evening's Galway Festival feature with Panama Hat and Stony Grey.

The Co Tyrone handler had a stunning 12-1 triumph with Expensive Taste in the Handicap on Monday with Chris Hayes in the saddle.

Expensive Taste returns to action in tonight's penultimate contest, with Hayes once again on board.

Hayes rides the in-form Panama Hat – who has won his last four races – in the €60,000 Guinness Handicap, while Shane Foley will be on board Stony Grey.

Oliver said: "We don't really know how good Panama Hat is. He is fit and well and seems to have no downsides. If the ground deteriorates he might not run.

"He has about a stone more weight to carry than last time out but he's in good form.

"Stony Grey was a good horse last year and might need the run. He has done well."

The Caledon-based trainer added: "We were pleased with Expensive Taste – you are always delighted to get the win."

A field of 14 has been declared for tonight's 12-furlong showpiece, with Aidan O'Brien giving his son Donnacha the leg-up on top-weight El Salvador as the 16-year-old's quest for his first winner gets more high-profile.

The champion trainer's daughter Ana is also on duty for Ballydoyle aboard Egyptian Warrior, while Tony Martin relies on last year's Ballybrit winner Dark Crusader and this week's hurdle flop Artful Artist.

Strandfield Lady, a redoubtable nine-year-old mare that is on a hat-trick after hugely popular wins at Navan and her beloved Leopardstown, runs for Harry Rogers and is due to be partnered by Connor King.

The excellent champion apprentice broke his festival duck here 12 months ago on the similarly popular veteran Maundy Money, so he might have a knack with these old-stagers.

El Salvador adds a touch of class to this. The Royal Ascot runner-up has matured to win two of his last three and young O'Brien's 10lb claim could prove critical.

Strandfield Lady, drawn wide, is an amazing mare. The nine-year-old vies for her hat-trick under a five-pound penalty, but it's still unknown if Ballybrit will suit her style.

Panama Hat is six years younger. While he is 36lbs higher than when he began his winning spree, it's hardly inconceivable that he could still figure.

Dark Crusader and Egyptian Warrior could play a part, likewise Artful Artist, which has apprentice Sean Corby up after misfiring over hurdles on Monday.

He remains progressive on the Flat and Artful Artist might atone for his earlier disappointment.

In the opening Guinness Handicap Hurdle, Redera must enter calculations for a formidable team after a recent spin on the Flat, while dual festival winner Diplomat is interesting after falling in the ratings.

Xsquared is more prolific, while Orgilgo Bay never missed a beat at Downpatrick. He is still nicely handicapped.

Daliyan, fit from the Flat, is versatile with plenty of scope to improve.

If Daliyan reproduces his winter form he could thwart Orgilgo Bay.

Sir Ector, last year's Magners Ulster Derby winner, contests the concluding Guinness Race for Armagh trainer James Lambe with Hayes in the saddle.

Belfast Telegraph


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