Galway Plate Preview – What Do Race Trends & Stats Reveal About Grade A Handicap Chase?

Any Galway Plate preview worth its salt will tell you about age profiles, ratings and weight. What we do at is add to it with analysis. This year’s renewal of the extended 2m 6f handicap chase with Grade A status takes place on Wednesday, 28 July on the third day of the Galway Festival. Read all about the Plate and see our experts pick out a shortlist of potential punts below…

Galway Plate preview – Avoid top ratings

Normally speaking, our previews kick off with the ratings topper. In a Grade A handicap like this, it’s a matter of finding the best horse at the weights instead. Framing those is Samcro, a horse with a great reputation but one who has done little to justify his lofty mark of late.

His owners, Gigginstown House Stud, like winning this and have four successes since 2014. Even with Jordan Gainford taking 5lb off his back, both Samcro and owner-stable companion Battleoverdoyen don’t exactly look chucked into this. Topweight in the Galway Plate is usually a barrier to success.

It’s a great shame that our editor’s ante-post pick, Cavalry Master for the same owners, didn’t make it into the race. First-time cheekpieces is the innovation with Samcro, but he hasn’t been consistent enough in recent times. That explains why he’s as big as 20/1 for this.

Racing weight – Under 11st

Only one horse has carried more than 10st 13lb to victory in the Galway Plate since 1999. That essentially rules out the top half of the field from contention. You need a well-handicapped horse to win this, and the assessor hasn’t really taken any chances with this lot.

JP McManus is the most successful owner in the race’s history, and he’s got five definite runners plus two of the reserves. TOP MOON has stamina to prove, but has the right racing weight and Mark Walsh in the saddle. He also represents last year’s winner trainer Joseph O’Brien, so could be worth chancing at 12/1 with Bet365 for this.

The same silks are carried by Modus here. Now a veteran aged 11, this is his second start since leaving Paul Nicholls for Enda Bolger. Another who must prove he gets the trip, Modus may be heading for Cross Country races, yet Timeform take a chance on him here.

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Age profile – Six to eight the best range

Six winners in the last decade were seven-year-olds. Although three horses aged nine were successful between 2002 and 2010, the trend of victors has become younger. None of this renewal’s seven-year-olds are particularly prominent in the betting, though.

Those aged nine are in the form of two Willie Mullins mounts, Royal Rendezvous and KOSHARI. The former was runner-up off 7lb lower 12 months ago, so you can’t say the handicapper has missed him. Koshari, however, gets in off 140, which gives him a nice racing weight of 10st 6lb.

It is also 3lb lower than when he was last in action and victorious in a graded handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival. First-time blinkers go on Koshari here, one of four in the race for owners Rich and Susannah Ricci. He ran in this three years Ago off 147 but finished lame. Despite that, the 12/1 with Betfred, who pay five places, may well be worth looking at each-way.

Favourites – Worth swerving

Galway Plate favourites don’t have a good record with only four obliging in the last 20 years. That’s a reason to take on The Shunter, even though Simon Torres takes a valuable 3lb off with his claim. Emmet Mullins’ eight-year-old was bought by McManus off the back of his exploits at Cheltenham last spring.

The Shunter hasn’t won for his new owner yet, and the stats suggest he is just a little too high in the handicap. Taking Torrens’ claim into account, he has 11st 1lb on his back. It’s simply too much weight still, according to the prevailing trends.

In this renewal of the Galway Plate, there are precious few if any horses that tick all the boxes. Stats can help you make informed choices about big horse races like this but there are no guarantees. All of Ireland’s top National Hunt yards have representation too.

Stable to follow – Henry De Bromhead

With two wins since 2015, Henry De Bromhead may just be the stable to keep an eye on. SOMPTUEUX is one of two representing him here, and could be a progressive young chaser that proves the answer. As a six-year-old, he still has plenty of scope for further progress.

Somptueux also ran fourth to subsequent Porterstown Handicap heroine Court Maid at Fairyhouse last autumn in a novice chase that has thrown up plenty of winners. He won himself at that venue in April following a winter break, and has since finished a staying on runner-up to Top Moon at Wexford.

As Somptueux now meets the re-opposing winner off 5lb better terms with only 2 1/2 lengths to find, he could reverse form. De Bromhead also books Aidan Coleman for the ride. Somptueux is also a 12/1 chance with Boylesports, who also pay five places, for the Galway Plate this year.

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2021 Galway Plate Shortlist

  • ***** Koshari
  • **** Somptueux
  • **** Top Moon
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