When it comes to racing in Ireland, it is the Galway Festival which conjures a great deal of annual attention and with the seven-day event being one of the more high-profile entries on the racing calendar, it is always keenly anticipated.
One that sees the biggest names in terms of riders and trainers try their luck across the course of a week’s frenetic action and one of the races that everyone wants to win, is none other than the Galway Hurdle.
The Galway Hurdle is a National Hunt hurdle race which is held in Ireland and is open to horses who are aged four years or older.
While the race itself is run at the Ballybrit Racecourse over a distance of just more than two miles.
During that distance, there are no fewer than nine hurdles and this handicap race is held in the gorgeous Irish mid-summer – with the actual staging changing from year to year, although it will always be held in either July or August.
First run in 1913, the inaugural winner was a horse that went under the name of Red Damsel and with more than a century’s history unfolding thereafter, this is a race which has created something of a sporting legacy in that time.
When it was first run, the length of the race was only one and a half miles, and this was the case during the first six iterations. Since then, the now Guinness sponsored event, has been staged at its current competitive length and it is one that was unchanged for its most recent edition.
An edition that saw Patrick Mullins lead Sadlier to victory and in doing so, become the man who has earned the most Galway Hurdle wins since 1988. Three to be exact, with the other two coming in 2018 and 2020.
Such has been the dominance of Patrick Mullins over the past four years, that betting on his success has almost been as safe as houses and for those who use the BetMGM sportsbook, backing him to victory, may have made some money along the way.
However, the word almost is key in all of this, as Patrick Mullins was foiled in 2019 and with Robbie Power leading Tudor City to victory, it meant that the Tony Martin trained horse has been the outlier in terms of success since 2018.
While there seems to be something of a mere monopoly as far as the Mullins family is concerned, as it is not just Patrick who is riding the likes of Sharjah, Amaron and Sadlier to victory, it is also his father Willie who is training them.
The father and son pair have overseen Galway Hurdle wins in 2018, 2020 and 2021 and although that accounts for three victories in the past four editions of the race, Mullins senior is not done there either.
Not by any stretch of the imagination and with Willie training a first winner back in 1996, he and the Galway Hurdle have something of a symbiotic relationship when it comes to race wins. Especially, as he has five in total.
The first of those was 25 years ago, as David Casey led Mystical City to victory and although that started the Mullins family love affair with the race, it was one that would not be rekindled until twenty years later.
Not until 2016, would the trainer in question earn his second Galway Hurdle win and with the dream team of he and legendary jockey Ruby Walsh combining forces, it would see Clondaw Warrior cross the finishing line first.
The second of two career wins in this famous race and although Joseph O’Brian’s Tigris River would win in 2017, since then it has almost been a father and son affair at Ballybrit, as the Mullins have ruled the roost.
To the point where there is already anticipation regarding a 2022 entry and if these two decide to entry a horse for the next edition of the Galway Hurdle, it will likely be considered one of, if not the favourite.
Of course, a lot can happen between now and next summer and it might be a little too early to test your betting acumen. However, these two men certainly have a winning pedigree, and it will likely set them in good stead for 2022’s Hurdle offering.