The Galway Races 2013
It’s nearly time for the annual pilgrimage to Galway where punters have two main goals i.e. to wage war on the bookies and to catch up on old friends. The Galway Festival continues to be the standard-bearer for Horse Racing Ireland and all eyes will again be focused on the figures for tote and bookmaker turnover this year. Quite simply the industry needs a good Galway to stop the reduction in turnover experienced by most racecourses so far this year.

In this article, I do not propose to give any specific tips a week before the races and anyway there will be more than enough of these flying around by the time of the first race on Monday.

I am happy to give the following general pointers which have served me well over the years and which you might consider when trying to pick a winner:

  1. Horses for Courses
    Galway is probably the best example of this old maxim and every year we see horses come good at Galway who has run well there previously. This can sometimes happen even where they come into the meeting with poor recent form. In particular, it can pay towards the end of the week to follow a horse that ran well earlier in the week provided the horse did not have a hard race on that occasion. Recording the racing earlier in the week can help you in this regard. You might also pick out a fast-finishing one that might have been given too much to do.
  2. Watch the Going
    This is likely to be of particular importance this week because of the long dry spell. Unless there is a deluge in the next few days you should be following horses who like top of the ground conditions. Proven mudlarks are unlikely to run and if they do they should be avoided.
  3. Stamina
    This may not be as important on very good ground but I like to back horses who have won over a couple of furlongs longer than the race they are entered in as the dip is severe and stamina and courage are needed to see out the trip especially in the longer races.
  4. Direction
    Galway is a right-handed track and I would tend to favour horses which have already run well going right-handed. Many horses have a preference in this regard so look at horses which have run in courses like the Curragh, Punchestown, Sligo, Tramore, Ballinrobe or any other right-handed track especially those with a dip like Galway such as Tramore.
  5. The Draw
    This applies in the shorter races where there is a distinct advantage for horses drawn on the inside. Don’t overlook this as most horses struggle to overcome a bad draw.
  6. Up with the Pace
    Because of the dip and the fact that it is a tight track with a short finishing straight, I tend to favour horses which run up with the pace.
  7. Good Recent Form
    Even though horses are often laid out for Galway and the trainer may have been ‘minding’ their handicap mark I tend to favour horses which have good recent form. Potential is fine but proven performance counts for more.
  8. Weight
    In handicaps where horses carry different weights, it may be better to look for a horse lower down in the weights although weight may not be as much a factor this year in the expected firm ground. Weight tends to be more of a factor in the longer races.
  9. Battling Qualities
    I like to back a horse which has shown resolution in a tight finish rather than ‘bridle horses’ or horses who ‘down tools’ in a battle. This is particularly true in Galway where there is a big climb up from the dip which puts a premium on stamina and battling qualities.
  10. Trainers Record
    Some trainers excel at Galway Dermot Weld being the most obvious example – the difficulty is often in deciding which of his to back as he often has a horse in most races. You can sometimes get a nice winner with a local trainer who might ‘lay one out’ for Galway.
  11. Jockey’s Record
    I would put more weighting on the jockey’s record as a good jockey around Galway can sometimes get an ordinary horse home whereas a less experienced one may struggle to adapt to the unique challenges of the Galway track. Pat Smullen rides Galway very well and usually times his challenge to perfection.
  12. Invest more in the longer races
    This is probably a debatable point but as a National Hunt fan, I prefer the longer race which allows a horse to overcome a bad start and where one doesn’t have to take the draw into consideration.

Hope some of this helps and one final pointer – if you are having a drink do most of your punting first – doing the two together is a sure way to the poor house!!

Good Luck – you’ll need it!!

Colman Collins

Founder & Management Consultant

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group