Why Willie Mullins is the trainer to follow at the Galway Festival

Willie Mullins after a six-timer at Punchestown

Kicking off on Monday, the Galway Festival is a week of racing to savour. Anyone who has had the pleasure to take in the Galway Festival will tell you it’s one of the best meetings to attend anywhere in the world. With an atmosphere like no other, there’s also the small matter of top-class action.

When you ask people about the Galway Festival, the first name people are likely to bring up is Dermot Weld. He’s renowned as the “King of Ballybrit” and it’s hard to argue with that, given his success over the years. That being said, he’s not the trainer to follow at Galway. As Adrian Wall pointed out in his Galway Betting Masterclass, his horses are usually under-priced, and there’s better value to be had elsewhere.

The man to follow at Galway is Willie Mullins, which was also pointed out by Adrian in his piece. I’m going to go more in-depth into why he’s the trainer you want to side with, including three horses at bigger prices to keep an eye on.

Why Willie Mullins?

This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact backed up by statistics. In the last five years at Galway, on the level, Mullins has sent out 56 runners, with 19 returning to Closutton as winners. That huge 34% strike-rate equates to a level stakes profit of £55.79, which is quite remarkable.

His figures over the jumps aren’t quite as impressive but a 21% strike-rate is not to be scoffed at. Mullins is set to bring an army of horses to Galway, with 22 horses entered into the Galway Plate and Hurdle alone.

Three Mullins horses to follow

Exchange Rate – Connacht Hotel (Q.R.) Handicap

Mullins has six horses entered in this 2m 1f handicap on the first day and I like the longest price of the sextet, Exchange Rate. He missed all of 2019 and 2020, making his return from an absence when fourth behind My Sister Sarah at Listowel in June. He has nearly nine lengths to make up with that rival, but he didn’t have the best of runs and kept on well enough to suggest he’d come on plenty for it.

Easy Game – Tote Galway Plate 

As always, the Galway Plate is fiercely competitive, and Easy Game is a big price for Mullins. He ran in the race twelve months ago, unable to get into a race where the pace didn’t collapse. Subsequently, he has won a Grade 2 at Fairyhouse, before a pair of lesser efforts at Punchestown and Killarney. He’s capable of better than those runs, however, and he should be competitive off a mark of 157. He’ll relish the ground and has a strong each-way shout.

Jazzaway – Guinness Galway Hurdle

Mullins has several fascinating entrants in the Galway Hurdle, none more so than Jazzaway. A full-sister to Briar Hill, she ran at the 2020 Galway Festival, where she finished second to Mrs Milner. Absent for 272 days subsequently, she made her return with a gutsy victory at Punchestown in April off a mark of 126. She’s eight pounds higher now, but given her breeding, she should be capable of far better. With race fitness on her side and a very light weight to carry, she can play a leading role at an each-way price.

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