Wednesday 16 January 2019

O'Brien brothers can combine to steer Ship Of Dreams safely into dock

Trainer Eoin Griffin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Trainer Eoin Griffin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It would be unheard of for casual supporters to get an all-access pass to events behind closed doors with an inter-county GAA squad but racing is a little different and trainer Eoin Griffin has a novel idea to attract more owners.

Based in Slieverue in Kilkenny, Griffin will open his doors to all-comers this morning as he gives a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in a racing stable from horses galloping to the work of the vet and the farrier.

It's been a tough few years for Griffin - who excelled in the mid-noughties with horses like multiple graded hurdle winner Kazal and classy mare Lounaos.

With Willie Mullins, Joseph O'Brien and Henry de Bromhead training close by, competition is stiff for new jumps owners.

Such opposition has forced some of the smaller operations out of the game but numbers at Griffin's state-of-the-art facilities have increased this year and he hopes to entice more new faces.


"We got wiped out with the recession, we had a lot of builders and developers and our client base collapsed overnight.

"We stayed afloat though and we're still around, you have to get past it and just drive on," Griffin said.

"The presence of so many powerful stables can be used as an excuse but it also creates opportunities, there are owners there that don't want to be a small fish in a big pond.

"We have some nice young horses to look forward to and it's nice to have a few additional heads sticking out over the door."

All eyes will be on the Group Three Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes (2.35) at the nearby Gowran Park where Archie Watson again sends course and distance winner Snowy Winter across the Irish Sea.

A shock 25/1 victor of the Listed Hurry Harriet Stakes at the Kilkenny track last month, when edging out Hence by a nose, she found the going tough in the Snow Fairy Stakes as Aidan O'Brien's charge reversed form.

They face stiff competition, however, with Jessica Harrington's Beautiful Morning also respected but preference is for Joseph O'Brien's Ship Of Dreams, which has been knocking on the door at graded level without getting her head in front.

The Lope De Vega filly was just touched off at Listed level by Panstarr at the Listowel Festival but is clearly on an upward curve and can turn the tables on Jim Bolger's four-year-old and take the €72,500 contest.

It could be another good day for O'Brien and younger brother Donnacha with Best Not Argue another of interest on the eight-race Flat card on a quiet weekend of racing on these shores.

After Champions Weekend there's a natural lull in the calendar but tomorrow's jumps meeting at Navan can see Jack Kennedy continue his winning ways.

Fresh from Grade One success at Belmont Park on Thursday aboard the Richard Hendriks-trained Zanjabeel in the Lonesome Glory Handicap Hurdle, the Kerry jockey looks to have a cracking chance in the first aboard Norman Lee's bumper winner Sole Pretender.

Cheltenham Festival winner Veneer Of Charm also looks the class act in the 2m6f hurdle (3.40) for Kennedy and Gordon Elliott.

Irish Independent

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