Galway Festival day four: Bayan holds solid claims in feature hurdle
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old has won five of his 15 starts over the obstacles and has some top class form to his name in ultra-competitive big field handicaps.
They include an excellent second of 20 to Thomas Edison in this contest 12 months ago, where the gelding kept on well to be beaten three lengths off a mark of 141.
Bayan went on to hand a valuable 18-runner handicap at Sandown in game fashion off a rating of 146, and is now able to race off just 4lb higher.
That gives the son of Danehill Dancer every at the weights, especially as connections have decided to put up a 7lb claimer Jack Kennedy.
Taking his claim into account, Bayan is effectively running off 3lb lower than when last successful and that gives him every chance of going one better than 12 months ago.
In the 1m handicap (15.00), Shalamzar looks to have been laid out to land the spoils by shrewd trainer Tony Martin.
The lightly-raced six-year-old finished an excellent third in this race last year, and went on to land a decent 13-runner handicap at Listowel off a mark of 75.
Although Shalamzar has subsequently failed to trouble the judge in two starts this season, the gelding has been tenderly handled in both and shaped far better than the finishing position suggests.
The handicapper has also dropped Shalamazar 2lb to a mark of 80 since his last run at the Curragh, and that makes the son of Selkirk look handily weighted on the pick of his form.
There is also little doubt that Martin, who has a decent strike rate at the track, has had this race as Shalamzar’s target for some time and with Fran Berry in the saddle everything looks in place for a huge run.
13.50: Shantou Flyer
15.00: Shalamzar (NB)
15.30: Queen Nefertiti
16.45: Bayan (NAP)
17.25: Swamp Fox