When the Irish raid Scotland, Wales or England with a runner, it is usually worth taking note. Young Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien sends just one horse all the way to Market Rasen on Thursday. This track is in the east of England so the journey is a 1,300-mile round trip. That is a long way to go for a race valued at just £10,000.
Joseph is operating at a healthy 15-per-cent strike rate in 2020 with 111 winners on the board to date. The son of the world famous Aidan O’Brien has worked very hard to get to where he is today. He has had huge success all over the world on the Flat and also over the Jumps. Not only does he have a Breeders’ Cup win to his name, he has also trained two Melbourne Cup winners.
TOWER BRIDGE is clearly being tilted at the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. This is a qualifying race and you must finish in the top six here to get through. The top weight will carry 11 stone 12 pounds and the talented Aidan Coleman is booked for the ride on JP McManus’s runner.
At first glance, a rating of 145 might not look very lenient when you look at his recent form. He was bitterly disappointing in two very competitive chases in Ireland on his final starts last winter, pulled up both times. He will need to leave that form well behind if he is to figure here against some very well handicapped types.
However, he does have the form in the book that would make him a huge player here if he is at his best. He is a former novice Grade 1 winner over hurdles for starters. He also has some smart Cheltenham form in the book, 5th in the Albert Bartlett in 2018 and 2nd in the Close Brothers in 2019 behind A Plus Tard.