'A Group Horse In A Handicap' – McGuinness Upbeat On Galway Big Guns

Ado McGuinness [left] with Stephen Thorne on the beach at Rush on Thursday morning | ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy


Ado McGuinness has described the Galway Festival as a place for the ordinary man to make a name for himself and revealed that he will be aiming up to 20 horses at this year's seven-day bonanza, headed by the remarkable Current Option (Ire) (Camelot {GB}). 

Bidding for a fourth successive triumph in the “Ahonoora” Handicap next month, Current Option will be joined by Galway regulars Saltonstall (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), Sirjack Thomas (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}) and Casanova (GB) (Frankel {GB}), all of whom were seen stretching their legs on the Rush Beach near the trainer's County Dublin base on Thursday morning. 

Speaking at the launch for the summer highlight, McGuinness said, “When I started off, I was a small, ordinary fella, and it was very hard to get yourself going at a big track like Cheltenham or places like that. I actually won an Imperial Cup at Sandown and never got another horse out of it.

“Galway is a place where an ordinary fella can get results. You can have a nice, well-handicapped horse who can do very well at Galway. An ordinary fella can make a name for himself at Galway.”

He added, “The amount of recognition you get when you have a winner during race week at Galway is unbelievable, it's better than three or four winners at one of the ordinary country tracks. It's a place where you can make a name for yourself. 

“There is no place like it to have a bit of fun and craic. A lot of our guys who are involved with horses, the Dooley brothers, Bart O'Sullivan, Jim Fairchild, James O'Sullivan, the Shamrock Thoroughbreds, they all love the place. The Dooley guys are bringing 24 or 25 over this year.  It is just spiraling for those guys.”

The red and black silks of Dooley Thoroughbreds, major supporters of the trainer, are expected to be once again in the spotlight at Galway next month with Current Option reported to be bang on target for the meeting by McGuinness. 

He said, “Current Option really comes to himself from this time of the year onwards. He was third in the Sovereign Path last year and the two horses who beat him were two English horses.

“This is a Group 3 horse, and a Listed winner, that's running in a handicap. If you drop a Group 3 horse back into a handicap, he's usually the best horse in the race and usually when you have the best horse in the race they win. You very often find Group horses running in premier handicaps off top weight and they often win them. 

“I'm privileged that I have horses like Current Option who can run in premier handicaps. Being a Group 3 or Listed winner, getting more black type, that makes no difference to me. I won a Listed race at Leopardstown last year and got 29 grand for it. I finished second in the big mile handicap at Galway last year and we got 26 thousand, so we target the money for these quality horses.”

Sirjack Thomas sprung a 50-1 surprise for McGuinness in the Galway Mile a couple of years ago and typifies the trainer's approach to these big-money handicaps. 

He explained, “You can only win the Lotto with one ticket, but the more tickets you have, the better chance you have of winning. That's the way I look at it.”

On other runners to keep an eye on at Ballybrit, he added, “Casanova has probably been the unluckiest horse I've ever had in these premier handicaps. He was second in the Mile last year and second in the “Ahonoora”. He was placed in the Lincoln, placed in the Cambridgeshire, but he just can't seem to get his head in front.

“He'll go for the two races, the Mile on Tuesday and the “Ahonoora” on the Sunday. The Mile race would be his forte, but he was placed at Tipperary over seven and I'll drop him back to seven on the Sunday if the ground is slow. 

“Sirjack Thomas is not going to get into the Mile but he will run in two handicaps there over the week. He's actually won twice down there and been placed twice. He loves it, so watch out for him wherever he shows up.”

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