Big names dominate the entries for the Plate and Hurdle, at the Galway Races Festival.
The increased prize money on offer has attracted quality rather than quantity. There are 39 horses entered in the Plate, while just 32 have been entered for the Hurdle.
Black Corton and Bryony Frost will bid to give top English trainer Paul Nicholls a second win in the thetote.com Galway Plate, the feature at Ballybrit on Wednesday. Black Corton is one of seven British trained entries.
While Grade 1 hero Quick Grabim, Cheltenham Festival winner Band Of Outlaws and the locally-trained Sole Pretender catch the eye among the entries for the €300,000 Guinness Galway Hurdle, the main event of the on Thursday of the Festival.
Successful with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Oslot in 2008 Plate, English Champion trainer Nicholls has also entered Modus with the €300,000 Galway festival highlight a long-term target for the pair.
Black Corton has not yet been given an Irish rating but were he to be assigned the same mark as in the UK, Bryony will have plenty of lead in the saddle as Black Corton would be top weight. Weights will be published on July 22nd.
The Galway hierarchy are happy with the interest from across the water. Michael Moloney, General Manager of Galway Racecourse, said: “2019 is a very special year for us here in Ballybrit as this year we will hold the 150th renewal of thetote.com Galway Plate.
"We are delighted to join forces with Tote Ireland and Horse Racing Ireland to increase the prizefund by €50,000 this year to €300,000 to mark this historic occasion.
"It is great to see a strong entry from the Irish trainers again this year, but it also adds another dimension to the race to have the seven entries from across the Irish Sea".
The Guinness Galway Hurdle wasn't quite as attractive to British trainers with just three among the 32 entries. Azzuri, trained by Dan Skelton for the Irish-based The Blind Squirrels Syndicate, is entered and also has an entry in the Plate. The Olly Murphy-trained Fiesole and Sophie Leech’s Garo De Juilley are the other British-trained entries.
Maloney wasn't perturbed, saying “The Guinness Galway Hurdle is always a tough race to win and this year, the 150th year of the Galway Races, looks like it will be no different with strong teams entered from the top yards".
Like the Plate, the Hurdle weights will be published on July 22nd.