Tuesday 11 December 2018

O'Connor still in the dark about retaining Edwulf ride

O’Connor: Edwulf partnership. Photo: PA
O’Connor: Edwulf partnership. Photo: PA

Thomas Kelly

Leading amateur rider Derek O'Connor will have to wait and see if he is to continue his association with Edwulf in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Galway jockey gained a first Grade One success when guiding the Joseph O'Brien-trained gelding to a surprise victory in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month.

O'Connor was also at the helm when the nine-year-old collapsed after being pulled up after the final fence in the National Hunt Challenge Cup at Cheltenham last March.

Edwulf made a remarkable recovery but did not complete the course on his comeback run in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase.

He is owned by JP McManus, whose retained rider Barry Geraghty chose the Tony Martin-trained Anibale Fly in the Irish Gold Cup.

Geraghty is again likely to have the pick of McManus' possibles in the Gold Cup which currently stands at four - Edwulf, Anibale Fly, Coney Island and Minella Rocco.

"I don't know if I'll be riding him," said O'Connor.

"Joseph has confirmed him a runner, which is good, but a lot will depend on what Barry Geraghty wants to do."

As for more immediate plans, there is no sign of an improvement in weather conditions and in addition to tomorrow's meeting at Navan being off, Leopardstown's fixtures on Sunday and Monday have also falled by the wayside.

The Co Meath venue was due to host the Grade Three Flyingbolt Novice Chase, with the likes of Saturnas and Tombstone amongst the entries, and it remains to be seen if the meeting will be refixed.

Leopardstown's Sunday and Monday cards were also called off yesterday morning. The track tweeted: "Unfortunately racing at Leopardstown on Sunday and Monday has been postponed due to adverse weather conditions."

Across the Irish Sea, tomorrow's meeting at Newbury has been abandoned. After calling off today's fixture earlier in the week, officials at the track were due to inspect yesterday, but clerk of the course Richard Osgood made an early call with no chance of the course being fit for action.

He said: "We now have snow on top of a frozen track and the temperatures are so low there will be no improvement."

Today's all-weather meeting at Chelmsford was also abandoned due to snow.

An inspection had been called for 1pm, but clerk of the course Andy Waitt made an early call with a further check planned for 1pm this afternoon ahead of tomorrow's fixture.

"The forecast for Saturday is much better, but the issue we have on Friday is getting everybody here," said Waitt.

Huntingdon's meeting on Sunday looks unlikely to go ahead, with an inspection having been called for early this morning.

A statement issued by the course read: "Further snow forecast on Friday and low temperatures look set to continue into the weekend."

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced an additional "jumpers' bumpers" fixture at Kempton on Monday "in light of the prolonged spell of severe weather".

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