Grand National Festival winner Belfast Banter has been installed as the general 8-1 favourite for Thursday’s Guinness Galway Hurdle.
The duel English winner, who scored remarkable back-to-back successes at Cheltenham and Aintree earlier this year, will test his mettle back across the Irish Sea at Ballybrit for Peter Fahey.
The son of Jeremy won at this course back in October off a mark of 121 – he will return off 23lb higher as he bids for a fifth career success under Kevin Sexton and an unlikely hat-trick of victories.
Earlier this month, amateur rider Derek O’Connor stated that he believed Belfast Banter was a horse for punters to keep onside ahead of the Grade A renewal.
He told the Racing Post: “In his early races Belfast Banter wasn’t a great stayer, not a great finisher of his races, but he won here in October and absolutely bolted up in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
“People were questioning him again going to Aintree but he went and won a Grade 1. He’s a top-level winner carrying a light weight – 10st 13lb – in a Galway Hurdle. He’s a good horse with track form.”