It’s good to be back with my usual Betway blog for the Galway Festival. As regular readers know, I love this week. It means a lot to my family and I. We used to come here when I was a kid, we’d do the beach in the morning, then we’d do the racing in the afternoon.

The week is a mix of good jump racing, good flat racing, and some, I think it's fair to say, lesser racing, but it’s not just about the action on the track. The city comes alive for this week and it’s so good that the crowds are back. There is a real buzz here.

The two big jump races this week are the Galway Plate and the Galway Hurdle, and they’re always so hot.

The Plate is so wide open (18:40). You could make a case for a good few. I’d narrowed it down to four, but I’ve settled on THE SHUNTER   for Emmet Mullins.

He’s improved no end in the past few years and his win at the Cheltenham Festival last year was impressive. He’s a quick horse who will love this test and I think the long run from the back of the last to the line will suit him. I expect him to go well.

The other horses who I think will run well are Cape Gentleman, Gabynako and Easy Game. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of them were fighting at the finish.

Thursday’s Galway Hurdle looks almost as open as the Plate (17:05). As usual, Willie [Mullins] and Gordon [Elliott] have a very strong hand and you’d be writing off any of their chances at your peril. I’m sure they’ll both come away with a handful of winners this week, but I’m going to side with MY MATE MOZZIE for Gavin Cromwell.

He’s starting to settle better and that always helps a horse to jump with more fluency. He’s another who I think the test will suit. I think he’ll like the track at Galway and he showed last season that he's got plenty of class. I’d like to think he’d finish in the frame.

On Thursday, there’s a couple of horses in the opening two races who might not be the biggest of prices, but I am looking forward to seeing them. FAKIERA was really good in staying hurdles as a novice and we’re yet to see the best of him over fences, so I think he’ll go well (14:10).

As should GANAPATHI, who is two-from-two over fences (14:45). He’s got a touch of class about him.