Andy Dufresne can escape from the pack to land Tote sponsored Galway Plate


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Andy Dufresne can escape from the pack to land Tote sponsored Galway Plate Andy Dufresne can escape from the pack to land Tote sponsored Galway Plate

By George McDonagh

AS we count down to the 2023 renewal of the Galway Races, a quick glance at the entries as well as a chat to their respective trainers confirms that quite unusually the heroes from last year, Hewick in the Tote Galway Plate and Tudor City in the Guinness Hurdle, will both be back to defend their respective crowns at Ballybrit next week.

In both instances, connections will be keeping a close eye on what the weather gods bestow on Head Groundsman Gerry Broderick and CEO Michael Moloney as they attempt to ready the famed Ballybrit track and enclosures for the marathon seven-day extravaganza of flat and jump racing. Every race has at least a prize-fund of €17,000, with the twin features each valued at €270,000.

At first glance, there is no surprise to see Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott dominate the entries of which there are 34 for the Tote Galway Plate with the honour of shouldering top weight going to last year’s winner on 11st 12lbs, a mark of 167 and he must concede upwards of seven pounds to his rivals.

Having added the American Grand National and an Oaksey Chase to his laurels since, the John Hanlon nine-year-old will, in reality, attempt to equal the weight carrying performance of 1973 hero Leap Frog who humped 12st 7lbs around Ballybrit to score under Tommy Carberry.

Can Hewick deliver? Well some people certainly think so as he’s already contracted from 16/1 to 10/1 in early exchanges. The gelding has been reported in rude health by his handler during a recent stable tour. Hewick would have landed the Kerry National at Listowel but for tipping up at the final fence as Bussleton delivered his effort.

His run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup ended at the second last when still maybe in contention for a place before he eventually got back on the winning thread in Sandown’s two and a half mile Oaksey Chase. His run in the French Champion Hurdle can be ignored owing to the very soft ground at Auteuil. However, I do feel though there are some well handicapped runners lurking below.

As to be expected, Willie Mullins fields a strong team, headed by Kilcruit on 11st who is the current market leader at 6/1. He was most impressive in the Novice Handicap Chase at the Punchestown Festival, a race that has for years been a good guide to the Plate. Runner up in a Cheltenham Champion Bumper, Kilcruit may have his ideal ground conditions on Wednesday next. Easy Game, tenth in the race last year, has made hay in small field conditions contests since and could also run well.

Henry De Bromhead is another trainer who can ready one for the Plate and in Gabby’s Cross, he has a course and distance winner having got the better of a right scrap with Bussleton in last year’s Galway Blazers Handicap Chase.


Pictured: Tudor City, with Liam McKenna in the saddle, landing the Guinness Galway Hurdle from Jesse Evans at Ballybrit in 2022. The 11-year-old is bidding for a historic third win in the race next Thursday.

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