Bob Olinger can show his class once again at Punchestown
Harry Cobden described the Honysuckle’s stable companion as ‘a freak’ at Cheltenham
Rachael Blackmore on Bob Olinger celebrates winning the Ballymore at Cheltenham. Photo: Mark Cranham/Inpho
Just 35 minutes after Honeysuckle puts her unbeaten record on the line, Bob Olinger gets a chance on Friday to show why bookmakers reckon he is the biggest threat to his stable companion next season.
Even in a yard also containing the two other legs of Henry De Bromhead’s unique ‘Holy Trinity’ at Cheltenham - Minella Indo and Put The Kettle On - Bob Olinger stands out for his raw potential.
There was no deeper impression made at Cheltenham than the way he landed the Ballymore.
Bob Olinger appeared in control throughout, showed ample acceleration to put two other Grade 1 winners in their place, and made light of the final hill.
Rachael Blackmore’s hardest task was pulling him up while, despite his disappointment on the third-placed Bravemansgame, Harry Cobden was so impressed by the winner that he labelled Bob Olinger a “freak.”
The runner-up Gaillard Du Mesnil takes his chances again against Bob Olinger in the Alanna Homes Champion Hurdle although anything but a smooth win for the “freak” will be out of the question for many.
Decisions on whether or not Bob Olinger goes over fences next season will be left until afterwards but bookmakers already rate him a general 8-1 second best behind Honeysuckle for the 2022 Champion Hurdle.
That he is also favourite already for the Marsh at Cheltenham next year indicates a talent with the racing world apparently at his feet.
It Came To Pass enjoyed his finest hour when landing last year’s big hunters chase at Cheltenham.
His chances of defending the crown faded last month when he blundered badly at the ninth fence but ground conditions could be ideal for Eugene O’Sullivan’s charge to run big in Punchestown’s Champion Hunters Chase.
O’Sullivan’s daughter, Maxine, takes over in the saddle again having not been able to ride at Cheltenham, and will try to settle a score with the race having been unseated at the second last in 2019.
The English raider Caid Du Berlais won on that occasion, following up a 2018 victory, and will have the record-breaking English point-to-point champion Will Biddick on his back in pursuit of a hat-trick.
Patrick Mullins is on Billaway who has been to both Cheltenham and Aintree in recent weeks and the services of Ireland’s champion amateur have been snapped up by Gavin Cromwell for My Mate Mozzie in the bumper.
In classic news on the flat, half a dozen Irish trained colts will line up in Saturday’s QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Ryan Moore has opted to ride the Dewhurst runner-up Wembley from Aidan O’Brien’s trio with Frankie Dettori taking the mount on Battleground. The Dewhurst winner St Mark’s Basilica misses the race.
O’Brien’s son, Joseph, a Guineas winner as a rider on Camelot, will saddle the National Stakes winner Thunder Moon with Declan McDonogh on board.
Jessica Harrington has a first English classic in her sights with Lucky Vega while Kevin Bolger will try to repeat his 2013 success in the race through Dawn Approach with his son Poetic Flare.