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Joseph O'Brien has his biggest...
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Joseph O'Brien has his biggest team ever for Dublin Racing Festival

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

11:34 23 Jan 2020

Joseph O'Brien doesn't do mediocrity. He trained the opening winner at the firstever  Dublin Racing Festival and followed up with the Irish Gold Cup the following day.

The third iteration of Ireland's flagship jumps festival is coming into view and there has been speculation that given his success on the flat, Joseph may shift his focus to the level.

When asked by Off The Ball if he might become solely a flat trainer in the near future, rather than his current mixed setup, the former champion jockey reckoned he'd be at plenty more Dublin Racing Festivals.

"I wouldn't think so (focus more on the flat) I'm sure I have more entries here this year than I had last year. So I'd like to think I'll be turning up at a few more."

Different Experience

O'Brien is into his fourth year as a fully-fledged trainer. His success is phenomenal. Over jumps in Ireland and the UK's biggest festivals, he has enjoyed multiple successes.

While on the flat he's the youngest trainer of a Breeders' Cup winner and the youngest to train a Melbourne Cup winner.

O'Brien had huge success in the saddle before taking out his trainers' licence. He says it's a very different experience training rather than riding winners.

"It's a very different lifestyle. In fact, I'd say I get a bigger kick out of training a winner rather than riding one.

"There's a lot more goes into it behind the scenes and there's considerably more pressure.

"I really enjoy it and I am very lucky and I have lots of good horses to go to war with."

The Kilkenny based trainer is a fan of the timing of the Dublin Racing Festival and is confident, despite the lack of English entries, trainers will support the weekend.

"When the prize money is good and the timing is good,  you'll find people will pitch up," surmised O'Brien.

Fakir D'Oudairies

One horse who will pitch up is Fakir D'Oudairies, although exactly where will be decided late.

"He has two entries over the weekend (Arkle and Flogas) and we haven't finalised the decision where he runs. Hopefully, the ground will be on the easy side and we're looking forward to getting him out again."

Fakir D'Oudairies impressed many with his jumping, particularly in his two runs before Christmas. "He's always been quite good at jumping fences, he has been quite natural since he started.

"He put in a great round of jumping that day (in Navan) and again in Fairyhouse."

O'Brien was disappointed with the horse's rhythm at Leopardstown, when finishing second to the Henry de Bromhead trained Notebook.

"Maybe he didn't get into the same rhythm as he had done before that in Leopardstown last time, but hopefully, we can get him back into that rhythm next time.

Could he reverse the from with Notebook:  We'd be hopeful we'll get closer, he seems in good shape."

The crucial factor on whether there will be a rematch with Notebook or a step up to face possibly Faugheen in the Flogas Chase, will be the underfoot conditions.

"The ground will make the final decision for us. He'll be left in both races until the last minute.

"We'll make up our mind as late as we can, the ground will have a bit to say on which we go for, he's already won at two and a half (miles)."

Ladbrokes Hurdle

The Ladbrokes hurdle, depending on the age profile of the reader, may be referred to as the Pierce Hurdle, MCR, Schweppes or even Coral Hurdle.

The race gets a little lost in the Grade One fest that is the Dublin Racing Festival, but O'Brien junior did at least confirm one runner (currently available at 10/1), from his six entries.

"The Moyglass Flyer is a likely runner, won at Leopardstown at Christmas, he won nicely and we're looking forward to him getting out again."

The Moyglass Flyer will be joined by more than one stablemate, including probably Entoucas and Top Moon, according to the trainer

"Entoucas has bumped into a few nice horses, he has been a little bit unlucky. He might run here, He has a couple of other options but there's a good chance he might line up here as well. Top Moon could run here too. We'll run a few in this."

Juveniles

Joseph knows a thing or two about juvenile hurdlers having trained Ivanovich Gorbatov under his father's name to win a Triumph and the late Sir Erec to win the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle last year.

O'Brien has two for the race this year A Wave of the Sea and Cerberus, who now both carry the JP McManus colours. the trainer again has concerns that Henry DeBromhead could have the best horse in the race with Christmas winner Aspire Tower.

"There's a good chance both of mine will run. Henry's horse looks like he'll be hard to beat."

When asked if he was surprised how easily Aspire Tower won at the course over the festive period, O'Brien acknowledged the quality of the winner.

"He (Aspire Tower) was impressive, I was hoping we'd be a bit closer to him but that's the way it goes."

O'Brien conceded his two would have to improve to take the top juvenile honours this season.

"They probably have a bit to step up if they want to win triumphs hurdles, but they' re two decent horses and they'll both win plenty of races."

Bumper

With a total entry of over 25 horses currently for the Dublin Racing Festival, O'Brien was asked where his likeliest successes will come over the weekend.

Rather than nominate from the published list, Joseph pointed to the success the team have had in bumpers (INH Flat races) so far this season.

"I've been very lucky this year to have some nice bumper horses this year, so we'll be represented in a couple of bumpers.

"Eric Bloodaxe has done nothing wrong. he looks a decent horse, he might run on the Saturday.

"We have a nice filly that won at Fairyhouse, by Jeremy, Castra Vetera she goes on Sunday."

Joseph O'Brien trained three of the four bumper winners at Christmas, it should pay to follow him in that sphere at the Dublin Racing Festival

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Read more about

Arkle Cheltenham Dublin Racing Festival Fakir D'Oudairies Irish Gold Cup Joseph O'Brien Triumph Hurdle

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