Based in Piltown, County Kilkenny in Ireland, Joseph O’Brien is based a long way away from Cheltenham. The journey in total is roughly a 600-mile round trip.
The fact that he is venturing across the Irish Sea with just one horse has to spark plenty of interest. Not much notice would be taken if it was the Cheltenham Festival but this is a normal meeting.
With a pot of just £19,000 up for grabs, the Grade 3 contest isn’t exactly worth a whole pile either. Nonetheless, he thinks it’s worth sending Scholastic across to take her chance.
His record at Cheltenham isn’t amazing with just three winners from 63 runners at the track in his career. Many of those were at the Festival so don’t judge him too harshly on that.
It’s worth looking at other UK tracks to make a fair assessment. He is 1-1 at Leicester, 1-9 at Aintree, and has a very decent record with his Flat runners when he sends them over.
The NAF Fillies’ Juvenile Handicap Hurdle looks like a pretty competitive affair, on paper at least. Four-year-old filly Scholastic, bred by Zoffany, will be Joseph’s runner in the field.
She is highly tried on the Flat and won four times on the level. Her sole success over hurdles came at Punchestown last September where she got the better of Jeff Kidder in a maiden hurdle.
That form has been boosted massively. Jeff Kidder cut through the field to win the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival last month. He then went on to Fairyhouse and landed a Grade 2, a race in which Scholastic finished third.
A mark of 121 may well underestimate her massively, and she is taken to land the spoils.
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