Monday 21 October 2019

Philip Reynolds lifts the lid on Pat Kelly's unorthodox training methods as Presenting Percy goes for Gold Cup glory

Owner Philip Reynolds, right, celebrates with jockey Davy Russell after winning the RSA Steeple Chase with Presenting Percy in 2018
Owner Philip Reynolds, right, celebrates with jockey Davy Russell after winning the RSA Steeple Chase with Presenting Percy in 2018

Niall Cronin

Pat Kelly won’t talk, Presenting Percy obviously can’t talk but Philip Reynolds is happy to talk.

And last Friday afternoon Reynolds gave me some insight, that I personally hadn’t heard before, about Kelly’s  intriguing way of operating.

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Davy Russell, who has ridden three Cheltenham winners in three years now for the Kelly/Reynolds axis, doesn’t even know where Presenting Percy is trained. 

“Pat doesn’t have a lot of facilities and he relies on a lot of neighbours for the use of different things and it is a community effort,” Reynolds told The Herald.

“He relies particularly on a guy called Gerry McCann for the use of what was a Point to Point field just outside Athenry.”

The owner regularly travels to Galway to watch his horses with wife Anne.

“When the horses are working out there, it is just a pleasure to be there, to see the community effort that goes in to the whole thing.

“Gerry has two guys there, Michael and Joe, and between them they are in the three corners of the field and as the horses gallop past they move a white fence out about two metres so that when they come around the next time they’ll never run on the same piece of ground. It’s incredible,” Reynolds explained.

“I’ve never seen a bill for Michael or Joe, I don’t know if anyone pay them or Gerry or if they just show up for the love of it.

“Then when the horses are cooling down the lads fill in the holes, go around with a roller and it’s like a putting green again when they’re finished.”

Kelly’s ability to get Presenting Percy to beat race-fit horses in the Galmoy Hurdle earned lot of plaudits.

“There are two gaps in the ditch and when they go through the first one, Pat would put on the stopwatch to see how long it takes them to the next gap and that is how he knows how they are working,” he said.

Ever since Presenting Percy’s RSA Chase win last year, the name of the horse has hardly been mentioned without Gold Cup in the same sentence.

“After last year’s RSA Chase I saw him installed as second favourite and I said to people a lot of water has got to go under the bridge before that might happen,” he said.

Ironically, the lack of water in the ground has led to a lack of racing time for Presenting Percy.

“And that is probably why we are as close to running on Friday as we are,” Reynolds quickly replied in a definite tone that is firmly behind the decision of his trainer not to run for the sake of running.

“I’ve never been frustrated with Pat. I convince Pat that whatever decision is made is the right decision and we move on.

“I’d love to have seen Presenting Percy out more often and all that, but the decisions were what the decisions were and whether they were right or wrong, to me, they’re only right, regardless of the outcome in the Gold Cup.”

Presenting Percy’s schooling sessions in Galway Racecourse came about following an invite from track manager Michael Moloney and, on accepting the offer, it was Kelly that suggested putting the fences left-handed.

“Michael was very generous to offer to allow us into Galway and a couple of other tracks rang as well and I would like to acknowledge that people have been very, very generous,” he said.

“With Michael’s agreement to Pat’s suggestion, they turned a couple of fences around to try and replicate Cheltenham.” Everyone will have their own views on whether or not Presenting Percy can win a Gold Cup but judging by two stories told last week, Kelly has had his view for quite a while.

Trainer and jockey Denis Hogan recalled meeting Kelly with Presenting Percy in the stable yard at Cheltenham after that RSA.

The trainer gave his stable star a pat on the neck and told Hogan: “We’ll be back to win the Gold Cup next year.”

Jockey Sean Flanagan won on Presenting Percy as a younger horse and congratulated Kelly on the win when he met him the following week.

“He’s something else,” said Kelly. “He’ll be back there next year to win the Gold Cup.”

Seemingly Kelly’s thoughts can flow when he does drop his guard.

Hopefully there’s good reason for him to drop it at about 3.40 on Friday afternoon.

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