O'Brien not fazed by Sir Erec setback
Triumph Hurdle favourite Sir Erec has suffered a minor setback, but Joseph O'Brien expects him to be fit for the Cheltenham Festival.
A high-class performer on the Flat, the Camelot colt has won each of his two starts over hurdles at Leopardstown this season - most recently dominating his rivals in the Grade One Spring Juvenile Hurdle last month.
He is a best-priced even-money favourite for the juvenile championship next Friday and O'Brien remains optimistic he will take his place in the field despite revealing on Twitter his charge had picked up a stone bruise.
O'Brien posted: "Just to keep everyone in the loop, Sir Erec was found to have a stone bruise this morning.
"With eight days until the Triumph Hurdle, we are confident that will be more than enough time for him to fully recover and get to the race in top form."
The trainer later explained his reasons for publicising the stone bruise, having taken note of a similar minor setback suffered earlier this week by Nicky Henderson's Santini when the Novices' Chase contender pulled a shoe off while galloping.
"Because he is a fancied horse going to a Festival, it is important that people know," said O'Brien.
"A stone bruise is like having a thorn in your finger - it's a bit sore, but should be good in a couple of days' time."
On the local scene, Smoking Gun made it four wins for the season when scoring a gutsy success in the Thurles Handicap Hurdle at the Co Tipperary venue yesterday.
Rachael Blackmore produced the 6/4 favourite to battle it out with Plan Of Attack from the second last and Smoking Gun found plenty on the run-in to post a three-quarters-of-a-length win.
Winning trainer Joseph O'Brien said: "He is improving away as we are stepping him up in trip. Rachael gave him a very good ride."
Blackmore's title rival Paul Townend, who remains seven winners ahead, was on the mark earlier on the card when Cash Back made an impressive Irish debut in the Thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle after surviving a slight scare at the last to run out a cosy three-and-three-quarter-length winner.