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Galway Festival: Ansar must shrug off big weight in defence of his Plate; Galway Plate.

Byline: Tony OOHehir

ANSAROS amazing record around Galway is so good that they might be persuaded to erect a statue to him at Ballybrit if he manages to become the sixth horse, and the first since Life Of A Lord in 1996, to achieve back-to- back victories in the Hewlett-Packard Galway Plate today.

The Dermot Weld-trained nine-year-old has raced at every Galway Festival since 1999, amassing a haul of six wins from eight starts over the course.

Those victories include the 2001 Galway Hurdle and last yearOs Plate after Weld had preserved AnsarOs handicap mark by not running him over fences for a year.

Ansar, who was unsuccessful in the BreedersO Cup Chase in October, impressed some observers when schooling after racing at Ballinrobe last week and is back on familiar territory and racing off a rating of 135, a mark 8lb higher than when he won last year.

However, the worry for Weld is that the gelding is joint top-weight with 12st today.

He said: OAnsar has a wonderful record at Galway and has been a tremendous servant. HeOs very well and should again give a good account of himself on quick ground, which he loves. But everyone needs to understand that he is a small horse. He is only 15.3hh and he has a huge weight to carry.

ODenis OORegan is going to claim 3lb off him. It would be marvellous if Ansar could do it again, but his weight is a worry.O

WeldOs hopes for a fourth win in the race are not confined to Ansar and yesterday he spoke encouragingly of his other contender Mutakarrim, whose owner Sir Michael SmurfitOs colours were carried by two of WeldOs previous winners of the race, Kiichi in 1990 and General Idea three years later.

Although nowhere near as successful at Galway as his stablemate, Mutakarrim has won over the course on the Flat and over hurdles, and has also run in three Galway Hurdles, finishing second in that race three years ago. He will be ridden by Robert Power, who was successful on Nearly A Moose two years ago.

Weld said: OMutakarrim, like Ansar, is a versatile horse. He is a good stakes performer on the Flat and he showed that with his second to Vinnie Roe in the Saval Beg Stakes. He also ran well at The Curragh last time and has been running up to his mark. IOm thinking of running him in the Ebor.

OHe hasnOt run over fences this year and has only limited experience. He would look to have plenty of weight for what he has done as a chaser, but if he gets into a rhythm and jumps well he will run a big race. He has a lot of class, but you canOt afford to make mistakes and expect to win a Galway Plate.O

KidOZOPlay, Ball O Malt and Totheroadyouvgone mount a strong British challenge for a race that has been won by the visitors only once, when Amlah scored for Philip Hobbs and Brendan Powell in 1998.

Michael OOBrien, successful with Dovaly five years ago and trainer of joint top-weight Banasan, expressed similar fears to those Weld voiced about the task facing Ansar.

OOBrien said: OBanasan is in very good form, but having to twice face that hill with 12st on his back will be a tough task. It probably isnOt a vintage Galway Plate, but 12st is 12st. He didnOt get a great run in the race last year when he finished sixth, but he jumps a lot quicker now and has won a Kerry National since.

OHe has been going really well at home and won nicely over hurdles at Fairyhouse. I do fancy him a bit, but IOm worried about the weight.O

nTony OOHehir tipped 9-1 winner Latino Magic at Galway yesterday. For

todayOs bets, see page 85
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2005
Previous Article:Galway Festival: In-form team have Orealistic chanceO of victory with Navajo; Briefing.
Next Article:Galway Festival: Goldie believes track and ground will suit KidOZOPlay.

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