Thursday 22 February 2018

O'Brien jumping with joy at Doncaster

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Joseph O'Brien admitted yesterday that his long-term future as a jockey is over jumps.

The 18 year-old, who tries to win his first English Classic tomorrow when he partners his father Aidan's Seville in the St Leger, had just ridden Reply to victory for Ballydoyle in the Weatherbys £300,000 Two-Year-Old Stakes, when he confirmed what a lot of people already assumed.

With little change from six feet, and limited to rides saddled with 9st or more, O'Brien explained: "I'll ride on the Flat for as long as possible, but I am tall and I'm not going to get any lighter."

Riding top-class Flat horses is a good grounding for jump racing, but picking up yesterday's winning jockey's percentage of the £160,000 prize is, equally, a good incentive to go hungry for a little longer.

That sort of prize, he will be more than aware, doesn't grow on trees over jumps. Firstly, though, he has Seville to ride tomorrow.

"He's been knocking on the door this season and if he is back to his best he'd go well," he said.

The Ballydoyle colt faces stiff opposition from the likes of his York conqueror Sea Moon, as well as Godolphin's Irish Oaks winner Blue Bunting and Richard Hannon's progressive Census.

Reply wasn't the only Irish winner on the Town Moor yesterday as John Oxx's Alanza got the ball rolling when landing the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes under Johnny Murtagh.

The Aga Khan-owned filly was delivered with near-surgical precision by Murtagh to surge between Chachamaidee and Dever Dream, beating the latter with more authority than a neck might suggest. Oxx's assistant Jimmy O'Neill said the filly was unlikely to run again this season, but the plan is for her to stay in training.

Dermot Weld was hoping to make it a hat-trick in the Park Hill Stakes, but, having made the early running, his Sense Of Purpose faded somewhat and trailed home last behind David Lanigan's stylish winner Meeznah.

In the wake of yesterday's brace for Irish-trained horses, Requinto and Saddler's Rock carry the raiders' hopes at Doncaster this afternoon.

Having struggled against his elders in the Nunthorpe at York, Requinto reverts to juvenile company in the Flying Childers Stakes. Representing David Wachman and Wayne Lordan, the colt, impressive at Goodwood in July, ought to have a leading chance in the five-furlong Group Two.

Saddler's Rock is out to maintain Oxx's 100pc strike-rate across the water this term when he tackles seven rivals in the Doncaster Cup. Niall McCullagh's mount isn't without a squeak.

The only three-year-old in the race, Saddler's Rock -- third behind Fictional Account and Fame And Glory at The Curragh last time -- gets between 11lbs and 17lbs from his opposition. If the Curragbeg representative stays the marathon trip, he should not be far away.

Both Fictional Account and Fame And Glory were among the declarations for tomorrow's Irish Field St Leger at the Curragh. In all, six horses, three of which are English-based, will tackle the Group One.

Jamie Spencer, absent when Fame And Glory was narrowly denied by Fictional Account in August after steering him to glory in the Ascot Gold Cup previously, is back on board the odds-on favourite. Pat Flynn's longshot Waydownsouth is the other member of the home team.

Spencer also takes the mount on Vault, one of three that O'Brien is due to saddle in the Goffs National Stakes.

Seamie Heffernan is on Power and that one is rated joint second-favourite, along with Jessica Harrington's Dragon Pulse, behind Jeremy Noseda's Talwar, which was supplemented earlier in the week.

Goffs National Stakes -- Boylesports odds: 5/2 Talwar, 3/1 Power, Dragon Pulse, 8/1 David Livingston, 10/1 Tough As Nails, 14/1 bar.

Irish Independent

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