Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

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Traditionally I stay Thursday night in Dublin the week prior to the Galway races so as to take in a “Bulmers’ Night” at Leopardstown. These are evening race meetings followed by live music - an attempt to attract a younger audience (not me!) to the sport. In recent years, on separate occasions, I've seen Damien Dempsey and Sharon Shannon here. This time it would have been The Stunning (whom I know little about) had it not been for yet another delayed Aer Lingus flight from Birmingham. By the time I got into the city it was too late to set off for Leopardstown.


When I pitched up at the Harding Hotel I was told I was being relocated to the Handel Hotel owing to double booking! I was not best pleased because, in my view, the Handel is inferior to the Harding despite a higher room rate. Not a great start to the holiday, however I did catch the top drawer Vermeer exhibition at the National Gallery.


Friday morning I was on the Galway train, passing through towns with familiar names like Athlone and Athenry. I was meeting up with a couple of friends and we attended a few excellent events during the closing weekend of the Galway Arts Festival. We also enjoyed some superb meals together. I was staying at the Connacht Hotel as was the case with most of my previous visits. Great leisure complex and live music every night in the bar.


Three fab eateries to recommend: Dock No1, fine dining on the first floor, very good bar food and wide choice of craft beers on the ground floor. I was served the biggest scallops I've ever seen:



Pearla na Mara: great fish dishes (see my tripadvisor review). Finally Venice, where we'd enjoyed terrific pasta in previous years. It's so successful it has relocated to bigger premises - still difficult to get a table at weekends though.


Admission: Monday adults 20 euro, seniors 10 euro; Tuesday adults 25 euro, seniors 15 euro.

At lunchtime on Monday the coaches were already stacking up in Eyre Square waiting to ferry punters to the track for the 17:20 start of the seven-race card.

Readers of previous Galway articles will know my liking for races over the 7f trip here. We were to witness five races over this trip during the two days we were attending - including two handicaps which would carry most of our cash. For those who don't know the significance of these races, horses drawn low have a distinct advantage, particularly early in the week before the ground cuts up. On Sunday night we'd picked up on a big market move for Thunder Rock (trap two) in Monday’s handicap. We secured a chunk of the 12/1 (ew) available.

Huge disappointment as the gamble went astray, the selection finishing fourth at just 6/1.Thankfully part of my bet was with Paddy Power who paid on the fourth place despite only 14 runners lining up. I'm embarrassed to report that the only other race over 7f - a maiden - produced a 14/1 winner from trap one which went off unbacked by me! I finished the day nursing a loss, the PP bet providing my only return. Not so my racing companion, a shrewd Placepot player. Mick had constructed a complex perm of about 100 x 40p bets duly incorporating low drawn horses in the appropriate races. He successfully landed the bet for 80p picking up over £4,000!

Tuesday it was into battle again with three 7f races to tackle: two maidens and a handicap. The first maiden was a setback as I sided with the out-of-form Dermot Weld’s runner that could only finish fourth. The second maiden looked a better race from our perspective. Two of the strongly fancied runners were drawn 10 & 14 in the 14-runner field whereas a case could be made for each of the horses drawn 1,2 & 3. I played two of the latter in win bets and also had a decent combination forecast bet on all three. I was on Cascavelle which won the race from trap one for RP McNamara @ 9/1. The other two possibles were second and third for a 1-3-2 draw finish. The forecast paid 57.48.


Cascavelle the well-drawn grey prevailed


I was back in the game. The last race on the card was the 7f handicap. We'd backed two that  morning, taking 16/1 Northern Surprise and 8/1 Knockmaole Boy. We watched the race adjacent to the winning post, intending to view the big screen for the early stages. As they broke from the stalls the big screen went blank. The commentary was difficult to hear. I thought I heard Knockmaole Boy mentioned a couple of times before they came into the straight. Eventually I saw the blue cap finishing fast as the 16 runners thundered home in the fading light. 


Knockmaole Boy gets up close home to land the gamble


Gordon Elliot’s Knockmaole Boy prevailed landing a minor gamble at 6/1. He’d been drawn one. Needless to say Mick landed the Placepot (paid only 185.40 today) and our betting strategy had proved successful but perhaps not fully exploited. In the five 7f races trap one obliged three times.

Despite the late finish we were back in Dock No1 before 21:30 to celebrate with Guinness and more excellent seafood.

August 2017