Wayne Bailey: Brian Duffy’s Magic Chegaga can can cast winning spell in feature race, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap
If he were alive today, I’d love to send Albert Einstein the Galway race card to see if he could figure out today’s feature race, the Colm Quinn BMW Mile Handicap (6.40).
t looks ultra-competitive to me, and I’m struggling to draw a line through a number of runners.
Won by the 50/1 shot Sirjack Thomas last year, giving trainer Adrian McGuinness his third straight win in the race, it offers good prize money, so it’s no surprise to see trainers like McGuinness target this type of contest.
The winner here gets €72,000 of the €120,000 total prize money and McGuinness is giving it a good go again this year with eight of the 18 runners, including Sirjack Thomas and 2018/’19 winner Saltonstall.
With his record in this race and the fact that he’s mob-handed, you can’t rule out another big win, although, at the time of writing, Jessica Harrington’s Cowboy Justice is attracting support and trades around 5/1.
That colt won at Killarney a couple of weeks ago and seems to be improving, but there could be a bit of each-way value around some of the others, and at 10/1 or thereabouts, Brian Duffy’s Magic Chegaga ticks the right boxes for me.
A versatile sort who has won on both good to firm and good to soft, she picked up a handicap win at this distance off 82 back in June on her second run for Duffy and was runner-up at the Curragh a couple of weeks later off 4lbs higher. Rated 87 today, Colin Keane is booked to ride and I reckon she has more to come.
Thankfully, other races look more straightforward, including the opening Colm Quinn BMW Listed Novice Hurdle (5.10), for which Tax For Max is a worthy favourite around 13/8 for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.
A German import, it took eight races for him to get off the mark for Mullins, but he began building on this early promise in 2022 and was placed in a Grade B Handicap at Punchestown in April.
He followed that up with a victory in a maiden hurdle there in May, which he won with plenty in hand, albeit at very short odds.
That sets up the five-year-old nicely for today, although he won’t have it quite so simple and the likes of Prairie Dancer will be ready to pounce if the favourite messes up.
Trained by Joseph O’Brien, the gelding arrives here seeking a hat-trick. Although his jumping wasn’t the most polished when last seen in a Bellewstown novice hurdle earlier this month, he was forced to work harder than his odds of 5/6 suggested, which showed he has a bit of toughness when it’s needed.
Gordon Elliott’s Amir Kabir is also worth a mention. He was decent enough on the Flat, winning a couple of races for Roger Charlton, but disappointed in his first race for Elliott when way down the field in a Flat handicap at Leopardstown. However, he looked promising in his first race over timber recently when he beat 6/4 favourite Hisnameis Mrdevitt to take a maiden at Roscommon.
The evening finishes with the Caulfield Industrial Handicap (8.20), for which Black Hawk Eagle heads the early betting around 7/2 for Noel Meade and Colin Keane.
He’s been going close in handicaps around this mark and it’s only a matter of time before he claims his first career success – but I can’t have him at those odds in what appears to be a very open handicap.
Instead, the Adrian McGuinness-trained Star Of Cashel gets the vote and I’ll be surprised if he goes off as high as his forecast price of 14/1. It’s a while ago now, but he won a handicap in 2020 before he came to McGuinness’s yard off a mark of 84, and he comes here following a decent run when fifth of 22 runners at the Curragh last time when rated 72.
He’s been dropped to 70 for today, which seems quite lenient, and if you consider that jockey Adam Caffrey is claiming a further 7lbs, he looks well in at the weights.
Cleveleys is another that catches the eye here but might be a little skinny around 5/1. Richard O’Brien’s gelding has been knocking on the door lately without getting the head in front but was a decent second in a handicap last Wednesday off 3lbs lower than today’s 67. He’s entitled to be in the mix.
My only worry for Cleveleys is that he’s had a busy season with seven races since coming to O’Brien’s yard in June, although that’s not necessarily a problem for all horses.
The Willie Mullins-trained Tax For Max can get punters off to the best possible start around 13/8 with Paul Townend booked to ride. He was as short at 30/100 when winning a maiden hurdle at Punchestown back in May, but he barely had to work for it and looks fairly promising.
Joseph O’Brien’s Midnight Run has a couple of other entries at Galway this week but if he takes up this assignment, he should take all the beating at odds in the region of 2/1. When last seen over fences, he was in Grade One company where he fell in the Drinmore, but he was successful in a recent spin on the Flat and should be primed for Galway.
A daughter of Galileo, Dower House has an entry for a Group One later in the season and looks the one to side with here around 11/8. Her Curragh debut was reasonably good and she’s sure to improve as she gains experience.
A race in which a good case could be made for half the runners, Magic Chegaga gets the vote each-way and was trading at 10/1 in the early markets yesterday. She’s in good form at the moment, but faces a stiff challenge from Adrian McGuinness’ yard who has no fewer than eight of the 18 runners.
The market will be a useful guide but from what we’ve seen so far, the Johnny Murtagh-trained Karakoul is the one to beat, priced around 6/4. He’s tried and failed four times to win but it’s noteworthy that he was once runner-up to Piz Badile which was later second in the Irish Derby.
Ransom should be an each-way price and was trading at 16/1 yesterday. Denis Hogan’s gelding came back to form when fifth in a handicap at Killarney a couple of weeks ago, and he’ll race off the same rating of 77 which gives him every chance.
Early odds of 14/1 seem too high for Adrian McGuinness’ Star Of Cashel, with jockey Adam Caffrey set to claim 7lbs to help lighten the load. He hasn’t won a race in quite some time but he’s been successful off higher marks in the past, and he shaped well when fifth in a big-field handicap at the Curragh recently.
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