This year’s renewal of the Galway Guinness Hurdle in my opinion lacks real strength in depth among the 47 entries but finding the winner is no easier. With top weight and twice course winner Luska Lad announced a definite runner by his trainer John Hanlon all runners will be able to run off their correct marks.
The early market leader has been the Gordon Elliott trained Dirar, a recent winner on the Flat at Ayr and prior to that he was a good winner of a handicap hurdle at Limerick when he gave plenty of weight and a length and threequarter beating to Banna Man showing himself to be in top form after a layoff but for me he will be found wanting in the jumping department. Having been a gambled on second in last years contest Deutschland who is also engaged in the 'Plate' is well enough treated but he might again find the trip too sharp .
No One Told Me from the Jessie Harrington yard was a winner at last year’s festival but things will be happening a lot quicker in this contest than the Monday night race he won last year.
Cloone Stream owned by Mrs Kathleen Gillane has been plying his trade over fences of late but although without a win since Cork in June 09, connections will have had this in mind for a while having previously landed a monster punt with the Paul Nolan trained-Cloone River in this Thursday highlight.
Grey Soldier has often flattered to deceive but could run well given the likely strong gallop and the David Pipe trained Acambo might have got in lightly if he can regain the form that saw him win the 2006 Swinton Hurdle at Haydock Park whilst another cross channel raider Amazing King has been a constant whisper for this contest in recent months.
Last years winner Bahrain Storm was an impressive winner of the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary on Sunday last when he defeated Plate fancy Cuan Na Grai.
The ones who interest me though are Truxton King(9st 5lbs ) now in the care of Paul Nicholls having been trained by Willie Mullins up until this years Punchestown festival and although his form figure is nothing to write home about his entry is of interest on a point of his connections alone.
The Paul Gilligan-trained Lady Hillingdon is another to have been running over fences recently but her sixth place finish behind Overturn(11st 6lbs ) in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr is the line of form to note as she is now 25lbs better off for a margin of 17 lengths and she is certain to be prepared to the minute by her Chelthenham Festival winning trainer.
For me though the Guinness sponsored Ladies Day feature is best left to the Dessie McDonagh-trained Cothrom Na Feinne which despite only having seven runs over jumps has won his only two starts impressively this season both of which have been on decent ground . The Mrs Jackie Bolger-owned son of Invincible Spirit opened his account with a facile seven length beating of Imperial Belle at Balinrobe here he led at halfway and had the contest in safe keeping turning for home and then a month later he was a facile winner from Wikaala of another two mile handicap hurdle at Roscommon when he made virtually all despite a fourteen pound jump in the ratings . These two lines of form show Cothrom Na Feinne to be very much on the upgrade but his chance is best highlighted when you go back to an earlier run at Punchestown last October when he finished a 13 length fourth of eight behind subsequent Grade 1 winner Shinrock Paddy on unsuitably soft ground. With ground conditions most certainly part of the reason for the improved form of this extremely slick jumper I fully expect him to take all the beating and lift the prize for former dual Champion Hurdle winner Dessie McDonagh.