Top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has won the last two runnings of the Galway Plate and his Barra looks weighted to go well and decent each-way value at 14/1 with bet365 in this year’s running of the €300,000 handicap at the Galway Festival on Wednesday, July 31 (19.20).
This eight-year-old -year-old mare is one of five runners in the race for Eliott and carries the famous maroon and white colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud who have been responsible for four of the last five winners of the prestigious chase.
She was a smart hurdler, finishing placed in Grade 2 and Grade 1 company and running a cracker at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival when third of 26 to Bleu Berry in the Coral Cup of a mark of137 – after which he got put up to 140.
Barra went on to win on chasing debut at Kilbeggan 12 months ago in good style when comfortably beating Oathkeeper by eight lengths.
Injury then resulted in her spending 277 days on the sidelines before making a promising return to action in a Grade 3 novice chase at Fairyhouse in April when a 10 1/2 length third of six to Camelia De Cotte.
She was disputing second two out when making a mistake and then dropped into third approaching the last as lack of race fitness took its toll.
Unlucky Last Time Out
Barra then ran no race when well-backed and sent off 7/1 for a hit handicap at the Punchestown Festival when pulled-up, but quickly bounced back when chasing home Mill Quest at Limerick.
The daughter of Vendangeur was then far from disgraced when sixth of 12 to Conrad Hastings atr Kilbeggan and had the race in the bag last time out at the same venue when five lengths clear and yet to be asked any sort of question inly to come to grief at the last.
Despite not staying on her feet, Barra has been raised 4lb for that unfortunate mishap.
However, she is clearly in rude health and should be very competitive off a revised rating of 137 on the pick of her form.
Off a feather weight of just 10st 3lb and Mark Enright, who rode Clarcam to victory in the race 12 months ago in the saddle, everything looks in place for a big run.
Black Corton and Modus Among British Raiders
Ditcheat handler Paul Nicholls, best known for his exploits with Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup winners Denman and Kauto Star, saddles top weight Black Corton and the potentially well-treated Modus.
The former is a nine time winner over the larger obstacles and has won 13 of his 28 starts under rules. He is a dual winner at Cheltenham and was far from disgraced when fifth to Presenting Percy in the Grade 1 RSA Novices’ Chase at the 2019 Festival.
Black Corton has built up a tremendous rapport with Briony Frost, who will once again be in the saddle, but off a welter burden of 11st 10lb faces a tough task giving weight all-round. He is a 14/1 shot with William Hill.
Modus is one of five runners for leading Irish owner and gambler JP McManus who saw his green and gold hooped colours carried to victory for a sixth time in 2013 by Carlingford Lough.
The nine-year-old, who has won four of his 11 starts over fences, is on a handy mark off 144 having been rated as high as 156 in the past and this race could well play to his strengths.
At 16/1 with William Hill he looks a lively outsider capable of going well and making the frame at least, so is another to consider each-way
Borice Heads the Betting
Favourite for the race at 7/1 with William Hill is another Elliott inmate, the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned eight-year-old Borice.
He will be ridden for the first time by Luke Dempsey and since being well-beaten in the Thyestes Chase in January when fancied by many has won two novice hurdles at Uttoxeter and Perth in facile fashion.
Borice is now rated 142 over hurdles, bjut is able to race off a 6lb lower chase mark. It makes him a fascinating contender off just 10st 2lb.
Henry de Bromhead, who has won the race twice since 2015, saddles three – including Heron Heights who is the shortest in the trio in the betting at 12/1 with 10bet.
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, who combined to land the 2m 6f contest with Blazing Tempo in 2011, team up with the enigmatic Yorkhill.
He is a dual Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival winner having won theNeptune Novices Hurdle in 2016 and the JLT Novices’ Chase 12 months.
Having been rated as high as 164 over fences, he is potentially thrown-in off 154 if putting his best foot forward.
That is a big if, however, as he appears to have somewhat lost the plot. He can be backed at 20/1 with William Hill.