O'Sullivan aims to throw a Welsh Curve
IT'S a long way from north Cork to south east Wales, but fledgling trainer Margaret O'Sullivan is hoping her daring raid on Tuesday's Coral Welsh National will ease the journey home.
O'Sullivan hails from the little village of Liscarroll -- about 10 miles north of Mallow -- and is aiming to put her homestead on the map for the second time this decade with mud-loving stayer Indifference Curve.
Liscarroll already has had more than its 15 minutes of fame as it was the venue for Denman's only point-to-point success -- from there it was all upwards for the son of Presenting as he went on to Gold Cup immortality, before retiring last week.
Despite having just five horses in training at her stable, O'Sullivan has no qualms about taking on some of Britain's biggest names at Chepstow and does not believe Indifference Curve will be out of place.
In the frame in all three starts during the autumn and early winter, the nine-year-old has not won for a while, but every time he has done so it has been in testing conditions -- something virtually guaranteed at Chepstow.
"I've been thinking about the race for a long time," revealed O'Sullivan. "In fact, I think it could have been three years ago when he ran in a race in Limerick. I always thought he wanted a trip and his jumping is so good that I thought he might make a Grand National horse one day. Possibly he will do, but the Welsh National is the next best thing.
"Chepstow is perhaps the toughest course in the world with the five fences in the straight, but his jumping is his best attribute.
"I gave him a short break after he was beaten six lengths in the Cork National and, hopefully, he has a chance. He's in very good form."
A jockey has yet to be decided, with the trainer waiting on Paddy Brennan to confirm.
"It's not easy to find a jockey who can do 10st exactly -- I had been looking for Timmy Murphy, but I believe he has to ride at Kempton. Hopefully, it will be confirmed soon," she said.
O'Sullivan believes she has trained around 12 point-to-point winners to go with half a dozen under Rules and Indifference Curve will be her first British runner.
But she is not unfamiliar with racing in Britain. "I learned my trade with Jenny Pitman in England and also with Jim Bolger, I've been training alone since 2008," she explains.
"I took a break for personal reasons and I got the licence back about 12 weeks ago. I've had seconds and thirds but I just have the five in training. They all have to be good for me to keep them."
Her fellow Cork native, jockey Denis O'Regan, is aiming to put a dampener on her ambitions with Giles Cross, which finished runner-up last season and has every chance of going one better.
Victor Dartnall's stayer only found Synchronised too good in the rearranged race in January, and returns for a second attempt on the back of a successful seasonal reappearance at Fontwell six weeks ago.
"He's very tough, he's all heart and a very genuine horse," said O'Regan.
"He was a bit unlucky last year when he ran into a few decent horses like Synchronised in the Welsh National and Companero in the Eider Chase.
"I think the biggest thing in the last couple of years was he hadn't been winning first time out, but he did this season at Fontwell.
"We were really pleased with that. He hit the ground running and he deserved to get his head in front.
"If he hadn't won you'd have been thinking he's always going to finish second. He's one of those horses that I can't believe how he keeps pulling out those performances.
"He's got a lovely racing weight, you couldn't ask for better one in a Welsh National. He'll love the conditions, he'll love the track and he's been trained for the race."