Bob Olinger to go straight to Cheltenham says Henry de Bromhead

Trainer says decision to skip the Dublin Racing Festival not related to ground issues

Trainer Henry de Bromhead says Bob Olinger is likely to go straight to Cheltenham and not run at the Dublin Racing Festival. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Trainer Henry de Bromhead says Bob Olinger is likely to go straight to Cheltenham and not run at the Dublin Racing Festival. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

 

Bob Olinger is set to skip the upcoming Dublin Racing Festival and instead go straight to Cheltenham where the two-and-a-half mile Turners Novice Chase is “highly likely” to be his target.

Henry de Bromhead’s star is unbeaten in two starts over fences this season and had been tentatively pointed at the Ladbrokes Novice Chase on day two of next week’s showpiece action at Leopardstown.

However, Bob Olinger is instead all but certain to have his next start at Cheltenham in a race formerly known as both the Marsh and the JLT, for which he is a best priced 11-10 favourite.

De Bromhead had initially suggested the Dublin Racing Festival as an option with a proviso about ground conditions being suitable on the controversial chase course at Leopardstown.

Watering is continuing on the famously quick-drying track that is currently ‘good to yielding’ in places.

However, the Co Waterford trainer insisted on Monday that plans for Bob Olinger are irrespective of the state of the going at Leopardstown.

“It’s nothing to do with ground, it’s just timing. He’s unlikely now to be honest [to go to Leopardstown]. He’ll go straight to Cheltenham and it’s highly likely to be the Marsh,” De Bromhead said on Monday.

On the back of the Christmas action both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott expressed concern about what ground conditions could be like at Leopardstown for one of Irish jump racing’s flagship events.

Despite almost two inches of rain falling on Christmas Day, watering still had to take place on the steeplechase course ahead of the second day’s festive action.

However De Bromhead commented: “I was happy enough with it at Christmas I have to say. I thought they’d done a good job on it. In fairness they needed all the rain they got on Christmas Day. All the horses came back fine.

“It’s always a concern you’d have to say. But in fairness I thought they managed it well at Christmas.”

He confirmed the superstar mare Honeysuckle is on course to defend her Chanelle Pharma Irish Champion Hurdle crown on Sunday week at Leopardstown.

More immediately De Bromhead has a handful of declarations at Tuesday’s fixture in Down Royal and they will attract plenty of interest in the context of overall stable form.

The form of De Bromhead’s team appeared to dip over Christmas with the new year not seeming to change things significantly.

Bob Olinger at Punchestown was one of three winners from 19 National Hunt runners in the last three weeks. The trainer has also had a winner on the Flat in that time.

De Bromhead, however, is happy the relatively disappointing strike-rate is nothing more than a temporary blip.

“I wouldn’t say we’re all guns blazing but I also think a lot of it is we just haven’t got the bounce of the ball,” he said.

“We’re obviously not on full cylinders. But with a good few of them I just felt we weren’t getting the bounce of the ball. We could have had four other winners at Christmas, three of them on the last day.

“And if A Plus Tard had won the Savills we’d be told we were having a brilliant Christmas.

“These were beaten a head or half-a-length and they could easily have gone the other way for us. Since then we’re tipping away. They certainly seem in good form at the moment,” he said.

Cheltenham stages its ‘Festival Trials’ fixture on Saturday and Elliott has given himself the option of running his four-year-old Pied Piper in the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial.

Pied Piper won his first start over flights at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve and is one of a dozen entries left in at Monday’s acceptance stage. Pied Piper is a general 14-1 shot for the Triumph Hurdle itself.

Ellmarie Holden has given Ex Patriot an entry for Saturday’s Gold Cup trial, the Grade Two Cotswold Chase.

Ex Patriot is one of eight still in the mix for a race that has a pedigree of identifying ‘blue riband’ contenders.

JP McManus’s Chantry House, who started favourite for the King George at Christmas only to be pulled up, is a likely starter at the weekend, possibly alongside Ahoy Senor

In other news, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has confirmed that Australian vet Dr Craig Suann, who is doing an audit of Irish racing’s anti-doping procedures, is carrying out the task remotely rather than travelling to Ireland.

The audit, which is paid for by the IHRB, was a key recommendation of an Oireachtas Agriculture, Food & Marine joint-committee report published in November.

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