Thursday 17 October 2019

O'Brien puts faith in Plan A with Dean Street Doll

Dean Street Doll trainer Richard O’Brien
Dean Street Doll trainer Richard O’Brien

Daragh Ó Conchúir

Richard O'Brien was not in the Curragh yesterday to run the rule over his two runners. Instead, the fast-rising trainer was attending to his patients at Abbeyfeale Dental, where he still punches in every Saturday.

While owning racehorses is a luxury, training them is not. So, "to be in a position to make some contribution to the household", O'Brien continues to utilise the Plan B mobilised when it became apparent he was not going to be the next Ruby Walsh.

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He was still in thrall to racing though, and three years working for David O'Meara in Yorkshire set him up to take out a licence to train in December 2016.He quickly made a name for himself, returning tallies of 13 and then 14 winners over the next two years.

Today, Dean Street Doll will be O'Brien's first classic contestant, donning the colours of Clive Washbourn in the Tattersalls Irish 1000 Guineas.

Washbourn, who has group performers Thundering Blue and Chief Ironside in training in England, bought the daughter of Oasis Dream as a reward for O'Brien for managing to win two low-grade handicaps with Bianca Minola in the space of four days 12 months ago.

Dean Street Doll arrived in Ballingarry at the end of June and O'Brien took his time. It was the end of October before he brought her racing and after finishing sixth of 15 in a Gowran Park maiden, he put her away with this season in mind.

"Chris Hayes rode her that day and he came back and said, 'You can go anywhere you like to win your maiden,' and he was right," O'Brien reveals.

That said, he was surprised when Dean Street Doll won at Limerick in April, given by his own admission, his troops "don't tend to be razor sharp first time out".

So she was stepped up considerably to Group 3 class for the Derrinstown Stud 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown and responded with a career-best effort, finishing second to Hamariyna under Colin Keane despite her inexperience.

"It was her third ever run. Colin had to prioritise the filly over the result. She's inclined to want to do things a little quicker than she should so he had to take her back a little to get her to do things properly. It was only once she was actually going about her job properly that he was able to allow her run her race. She ended up having to make up plenty of ground on the winner, who had a charmed run. It was a lovely run and if she was a bit more experienced and a bit more sensible, it's not hard to imagine her running even better."

The Curragh's stiffer mile looks like it might suit, particularly as this race is almost sure to be a true-run affair.

"Probably one of the biggest things is you'd imagine they'll go much quicker. That'll allow Colin to do what he likes a little. If she was to settle and to use her stride, which she wasn't able to for the first three or four furlongs in Leopardstown, it will be interesting to see.

"I'm quite uncertain of what to expect. The idea that we'd have a Guineas filly is hard to credit. This idea that she's bona fide . . . hopefully she is, she was second in a Guineas trial. Let's just leave it to her."

Whatever unfolds, there is more to come from Dean Street Doll, and from O'Brien, with Chessman another stakes operator and some promising two-year-olds to call upon. It seems only a matter of time before he will hang up the drill for good.

"This is our third year. It would want to start making sense fairly soon because there's a limit to how much one can support an enterprise but it should do. It's a competitive environment out there but it is possible to compete. The first two years have suggested that, and to get going from a fairly low level. But the difficulty in training is to maintain the momentum."

If Dean Street Doll makes the frame today, that won't be a problem at all.

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