Rachael Blackmore added one other main contender to her ebook of rides on the Cheltenham Festival on Wednesday when Bob Olinger, the 6-Four favorite, burst clear to win the Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle at Naas, marking himself out as Ireland’s main contender for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle on 17 March as he did so.
Bob Olinger went into Wednesday’s race with just one win over hurdles to his identify, however had beforehand completed an in depth second to Ferny Hollow, final 12 months’s Champion Bumper winner, on his debut over timber in November.
Blackmore, who was on the lookout for the 11th Grade One success of her profession, all the time appeared assured on Henry de Bromhead’s gelding and quickened to steer between the ultimate two flights. Bob Olinger flew the final and crossed the road six-and-a-half lengths away from Blue Lord, incomes a high quote of 5-1 second-favourite for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle behind the 9-2 market chief, Bravemansgame.
Previous winners of Ireland’s first Grade One of the 12 months embody Envoi Allen, who accomplished the double within the Ballymore final season, and the 2016 Grand National winner, Rule The World, who took the race in 2013.
“He’s always shown us a lot at home and I think today was the stamp of the kind of horse he is for the future,” Blackmore mentioned. “I wanted to ride a straightforward enough race on him. He’s a simple horse to ride in that sense and I was happy most of the way.
“He jumped better today in the latter half of the race. The jump is there if you really ask him. For the future he’s probably going to be one for longer trips, he’s won a point-to-point and looks one for fences in the future.”
Bob Olinger joins A Plus Tard, the 10-1 second-favourite for the Gold Cup, and Honeysuckle, the 4-1 joint-favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle, in Blackmore’s ebook of rides for the Festival, the place she will additionally sit up for using Aspire Tower and Notebook, each runners-up at Grade One degree final time, within the Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase or Ryanair Chase respectively.
Another severe challenger for the Festival assembly emerged earlier on the cardboard as Willie Mullins’s Energumene, within the blue and white colors of proprietor Tony Bloom, recorded a simple success in a two-mile novice chase.
Energumene is now as brief as 5-1 and no greater than 7-1 for the Arkle Trophy on 16 March, in a market headed by Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin, presently the one odds-on favorite for a race on the Festival at a high worth of 5-6.
The Festival’s three races for novice riders, in the meantime, may very well be contested by skilled jockeys this 12 months if the present lockdown restrictions lengthen into March, after the British Horseracing Authority mentioned on Wednesday that amateurs is not going to be permitted to participate in races below Rules after Saturday.
The BHA transfer brings the game into line with the most recent authorities restrictions round “grassroots” sport. Hunter chases will proceed to be a part of the racing programme however can be open solely to skilled jockeys, together with conditionals, and the weights to be carried in such occasions can be decreased accordingly.
“It’s too early to say what will happen at Cheltenham,” a spokesperson for the BHA mentioned on Wednesday, “it is over two months away and the situation may have changed by then. We will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions about the Festival closer to the time.”
A handicap chase at Southwell in September, wherein the veteran chaser Cillian’s Well suffered a deadly fall, is reportedly the race on the centre of a BHA investigation which additionally entails main rider Bryony Frost, who mentioned “ongoing things that need to be sorted out” in a current interview within the Guardian.
Frost, using Wisecracker, was a brief distance in entrance of Cillian’s Well and Robert Dunne when the 11-year-old fell 4 out and suffered a deadly harm. A subsequent trade of phrases between Frost and Dunne is now understood to have led to Frost lodging a criticism with the BHA.