A very different Galway experience this year. No need to tap up kindly drivers for a lift. No checklists to prepare. No need to pack clothes for innumerable weather permutations. No need to liberate funds, and also prepare an emergency fund. My annual visit to the City of Tribes will be much missed.
Still, nothing like a winner or two to salve a wound. There is some rain forecast overnight. We were already due to race on yielding ground. No surprise if it turns soft. Typically competitive fare.
4.10 Claregalwayhotel.ie Maiden: Wembley singed the fingers of short-priced punters when second at the Curragh last time up. That was probably a good maiden though. A repeat performance might be enough here. Further progress seems likely. I'm unconvinced about the form of the race Trusted Ally ran in on debut. It was a taking run on the eye though. He's feared most.
Selection: Wembley 11-8
4.40 Claytonhotelgalway.ie Handicap: Soaring Monarch has a very tricky draw to overcome. Softish ground should make it easier to overcome a wide stall position. He certainly appeals as a well-handicapped, progressive sort. This is an easier assignment than he faced on his last start at Cork. Kokura is enjoying a fine campaign. He should run well again.
Selection: Soaring Monarch 11-1
5.15 Galmont.com Handicap (Div I): Lady Scathach has taken her form to a new level of late and can complete the hat-trick here. She was a very easy winner at Leopardstown last week. This test promises to be even more suitable. A six-pound penalty seems unlikely to stop her. Pulsating is another mare who arrives here in top form.
Selection: Lady Scathach 10-3
5.45 Galmont.com Handicap (Div II): Atlas is a tricky hose to win with. As such, it goes slightly against the grain to envisage him following up on a recent Leopardstown victory. Monday's opposition make limited appeal though. Atlas should still be well handicapped. This race sets up really well for this hold-up performer. He has also run well on two previous visits to the track. Tanseeq is a token forecast selection.
Selection: Atlas 7-2
6.15 Easyfix Handicap: Globe Theatre is never going to live up to his illustrious pedigree. Joseph O'Brien can probably win a race with him off this mark though. His comeback in Bellewstown looked a tune-up. Up in trip, and with cheekpieces refitted, we can expect a much improved effort here. Centroid is another well-bred sort. He has scope at this trip.
Selection: Globe Theatre 12-1
6.45 Connaught Hotel Handicap: Sharjah heads the market here. He's a smashing horse but opposable on the Flat. He wouldn't welcome the rain either. Princess Zoe rates the selection. Tony Mullins is getting a sweet tune out of this German import. She was very strong at the line when winning the Ladies Derby last time out. She has to cope with a 13-pound rise in a better race. With the promise of further improvement for a step up in trip, I think she can. Dalton Highway bids to go one place better than last year. Unfortunately, he's 18 pounds higher in the weights. He has bolted up on his last couple of starts, mind you.
Selection: Princess Zoe 9-2
7.15 Eventus Handicap: Elizabethofaragon is very hard to oppose. Her Ulster Oaks win last week is strong form. She beat a progressive sort and it was a fair way back to the third. This race is a drop in grade. She is likely to be even more effective at this longer trip. It will come as a major surprise if a penalty is enough to stop her. Lilli Melena has scope from her mark.
Selection: Elizabethofaragon 2-1
7.45 pm Monami Construction Maiden: Mt Leinster is a slightly frustrating sort. Keen going tendencies have stopped him achieving his full potential over hurdles. He has still got to a high level though. He should outspeed Thosedaysaregone over this trip.
Selection: Mt Leinster 11-8
Watch the first day of the Galway Races on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 5.30pm on Monday.