Joseph O’Brien – My Cheltenham Preparation
Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
I was delighted to see Edwulf produce that performance in the Novice Handicap at Naas on Sunday.
I’ve always thought him good enough to mix it with the smart novices, but his jumping has let him down on occasions in the past. We’ve kept our options open with him, he’ll have entries in the National Hunt Chase and RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
He’s received a 7lb rise from the handicapper and that takes him to a rating of 152. A handicap like the Leinster National is also an option at Naas next month.
The BoyleSports Irish Grand National could be another option but it might come a year too soon.
I’ll let JP McManus and Frank Berry discuss it and we’ll make a plan then.
I wasn’t too disappointed with Landofhopeandglory’s third in the Winning Fair at Fairyhouse. He hadn’t run since Christmas and the ground was very heavy.
He travelled well until tiring in the home straight. He’ll get entries in the Triumph Hurdle and Fred Winter and we’ll decide next week which option to take.
At Dundalk on Friday evening, Ligeti followed up his win last week in the ten furlong handicap. We had concerns about the step up in trip so Ana (O’Brien) dropped him out and rode him with plenty of confidence.
He’s received a 9lb rise from the handicapper which takes his rating to 72. Personally, I thought 9lb was harsh for a 1/2 length victory and it remains to be seen if more improvement is forthcoming. We’ve entered him again for next Friday night. He’ll have to step up in grade now, he’s won two 45-65 graded races.
We’ve decided that we’ll keep our recent Punchestown bumper winner Early Doors for the Land Rover Bumper on the opening day of the Punchestown festival. West Coast Time will get an entry in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
I think time will tell that the second placed effort to Carter McKay at Naas was a good run. Hopefully he’ll be on our Cheltenham team.
Best Wishes Barry
Before I finish, I’d like to wish Barry Geraghty a speedy recovery after his fall at Kempton on Saturday. Jockeys can become quite selective as to what they ride with Cheltenham approaching, but falls are part and parcel of a jump jockey’s life, and some are worse than others. Hopefully he’ll be back for Aintree and the spring festivals in Ireland.