Mike Quigley

Irish horse racing, betting and other stuff

   Home      Leopardstown & Galway 2015

Surreal Sequel

Leopardstown 23 July, Galway 27/28 July 2015

As I was walking to the back of the Aircoach it suddenly took off at enormous speed and I was thrown onto the back seat with my backpack on top of me. What was the hurry? Did this driver know I was late for Leopardstown?

My Aer Lingus flight had landed about an hour late; somewhat better than the Ryanair equivalent which was three hours behind schedule – albeit with a free £3 sandwich voucher handed out at Birmingham airport!

The coach journey time to Trinity was 20 minutes, the quickest ever. (The return would take over an hour). I checked into the Grafton Capital Hotel which is well situated just five minutes’ walk from St Stephen’s Green. Not a huge amount to recommend it other than its location but it was only a one night stay.

I had already missed half the card but was keen to attend the post racing concert so jumped on the Luas which takes just 22 minutes to Leopardstown’s nearest stop (Sandyford). By the time I walked through the gate there were just three races left. Although I’d missed the quality stuff (two grade threes) I actually prefer to bet on handicaps. Having said that I think I would have backed (AOB’s) Deauville in race four on the tote which paid 7.40 (9/2). Oh well…

I drew a blank in the first two handicaps before doing better in the last to recover the evening’s stakes. I actually backed first and second (9/1 & 9/2) on the tote. The winner paid 10.40. It felt like a winning day but it wasn’t. Time for a drink before Damian Dempsey came on stage. All the bars suddenly had huge queues – I had to go into the night club to get served. DD was very good though:

On Friday it was onwards to Galway via Heuston, exactly the same timetable as 2014. There would be two and a half days to enjoy the arts festival before the racing started on Monday. Although I’d been alone in Dublin I was to rendezvous with the same two friends as last year but at a change of restaurant. It was a new place: Pearla na Mara. This turned out to be quite a find. It’s around the corner from Roisin Dubh where I was going later to listen to off-the-wall singer Jerry Fish. But before that I was going to eat some fish. That night’s special was halibut. My number two fish of all time (turbot is still my number one). All three of us went for it and no-one regretted it – absolutely superb! For starter I had the scallops (three) served with cauliflower puree and herb salsa. My friends’ crab meat cannelloni looked equally as good.  

We were enjoying the food so much that we doubled up on the wine with the Anne de Joyeuse (Chardonnay) following a bottle of Cantina Offida, the latter being a competitively priced Italian despite not actually being listed as a house wine. Things were going so well that we finished up with a bottle of dessert wine despite no one ordering dessert! I think the proprietor (Justyna) must have been impressed with our heavy spending because she suddenly produced a complimentary sweet dish to accompany the dessert wine:

The next day we were feeling the effects of the alcohol and a simple pasta meal at the highly recommended Venice was the call. See last year’s article for further details:

Sunday night was culture night, off to the Nuns Island Theatre for a production of Patrick McCabe’s “The Dead School”. Suffice it to say this is an engaging, compelling drama based around the teaching profession.

Monday saw the start of the madness of Galway’s racing festival. Although I’d say it is less mad on the first two days - which was when we were attending. The other member of our party arrived on Sunday and, conveniently, was staying at my hotel (The Connacht) and had arrived by car. The hotel is on the road out to the races so that made things easy. It was 20 euro entrance but only ten for the 65+ age group, still known as OAPs in this part of the world. I said to the guy on the gate do you want to see my ID? His retort was, no that’s OK you look old enough. I said that’s what you said last year so things are not getting any better!

Seven tricky races ahead but only one in which we were particularly interested. Race five the seven furlong handicap. Low drawn runners are favoured over this trip, particularly before the ground gets chewed up as the week goes on. Annoyingly there was a maximum field of 15 runners which, as you know, is not good for ew betting (one additional runner meaning bookmakers pay first four ew in handicaps). There were three reserves so it looked unlikely the field size would reduce.

On our pre-racetrack visit to Paddy Power we noticed that the race in question was an EPS race. What does this mean I hear you ask? Extra place special. So provided eight or more ran Paddy would pay four places. We played two against the field: the King of Galway’s Tadaany (@3/1 favourite) and Hat Alnasar @ 20/1 ew with Paddy. 

Romiac comes clear of Weld’s Tadaany in the 7f handicap

Tadaany made a lot of the running but found one much too good for him in Romiac who came sweeping past in the straight. But hang on what’s that in a photo for fourth place? Yes it was Hat Alnasar who got the verdict. So Paddy Power paid out on 4th place (in what had become a 14-runner event) whereas other bookmakers did not! Despite this minor positive we were well adrift on the day. This was aggravated in the next where we backed Torcedor at around 18.0 on the tote. He looked all over the winner when taking it up in the straight. However Weld’s charge Harasava rallied to take the race close home. The pair seven lengths clear of the third.

We decided not to wait for the last, miss the traffic and head back to the city. Next port of call was Dock 1 an establishment on the waterfront which had only been open since November. Here they serve a variety of craft beers. We were sampling Porterhouse’s ‘plain’ porter, the first time I had seen it for sale outside of a Porterhouse establishment:

"When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt -
A pint of plain is your only man."

Although a losing day things weren't quite that bad!

There is a sister restaurant on the first floor called O’Conaires (On The Docks). This is where we dined and the food was excellent. I had potted crab to start then the trio of scallops, pork belly and Colleran’s black pudding - three of my favourite foods in one dish! Rather a good Chardonnay here too: the Remy Ferbras. Here’s a shot from our table by the window:

Day two at Galway races. This also marked the start of the Goodwood festival. We went down to Busker Browne’s for lunch to discuss the day ahead. Probably not somewhere you’d choose from its outside appearance. But what a great menu. Plenty of seafood attractively priced: oysters, smoked salmon and crab options. First class service too.

We were particularly keen on the 5f race at Goodwood scheduled for 16:20. With Galway kicking off at 17:15, we had a cunning plan to watch the race before getting to the track. I’d already posted my fancies on my blog (two win bets in this race). However on arrival at the PP shop we noticed this was another EPS race! With 15 declared runners PP’s terms made this an ew betting race with fourth place in the mix.

There was already a non-runner in the race so the horse I put up at 16/1 win only on the blog I was very keen to back again ew at 14/1 with Paddy (1/4 odds 1, 2, 3, 4).  We took a cab out to the Connacht and planned to watch the race on a smart phone using the hotel’s wifi in reception. All was going to plan when the wifi dropped out halfway through the race. Our two selections were prominent at the time….

Richard went off to fetch the car and wait for a sudden death Goodwood result. I got back onto the wifi and went straight to the betfair page – Ridge Ranger our 16/1 & 14/1 poke was showing 1.01 to lay – this looked OK!! My blog selections had finished 1-2 and come clear of the other 12 runners:

Ridge Ranger comes clear of Double Up at Goodwood (28 July 2015). The rest nowhere…..


What a tremendous start to the day!

Galway entrance price had edged up to 25 euro – but only 15 euro for “OAPs”. Great value – imagine getting into Cheltenham for around £7 and £10 on successive days!

I’d managed to find Empresario the all-the-way 12/1 (15.70 tote) winner of the Beginners’ Chase. We had quite a few losers at the meeting but were helped by two of the three races over 7f. The first maiden race was potentially a high class affair with runners representing Weld, AOB, Bolger and Watchman. The Weld runner was 13/8 favourite but drawn 10/10 so worth taking on. In the end we played the AOB runner (drawn three) and Never Say Never from the less fashionable O’Callaghan yard drawn in the one box.

Never Say Never broke smartly, made all and won by five lengths! SP was 6/1 and it paid £7.50 on the tote.  

Although we didn’t back the winner, the penultimate race of the day proved to be the most exciting. A 16-runner 7f-handicap. In the morning we’d backed When In Doubt @ 10/1 and War Anthem ew @ 25/1. The former was well supported and tried to make all, fading out at the two-furlong pole. The latter we gave further support to as it was showing 45.0 win 8.0 place on the tote. War Anthem was ridden by a 10lb claimer. Well behind at half-way, moved into sixth place at the furlong pole. Came with a rattle up the far rail to finish third (beaten just over a length). Paid £7.10 for tote place to go with 25/1 ¼ odds on the morning ew bet. Tremendous sport!

After the sixth it was a quick exit back to the city and more plain porter at Dock 1 accompanied by delicious food from the restaurant upstairs. Despite the shaky start on Monday it had been a profitable trip, assisted by the victory of Ridge Ranger at the “away” meeting.