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Thursday 8 December 2016

O'Brien eyeing return to flat

Classic winning rider could be in action in on the flat and over hurdles this weekend

Joseph O'Brien and Egyptian Warrior
Joseph O'Brien and Egyptian Warrior

Jockey Joseph O'Brien is hopeful of returning to the flat this coming weekend at Cork after missing the opening meeting at the Curragh last Sunday.

O'Brien instead went to Limerick to have his first ride over hurdles in public and later teamed up with his father at the Curragh in the post-race gallops, where many of Ballydoyle's Classic contenders were worked over a mile and although admitting he will mix his riding over jumps and on the flat, he hopes to be in action at Cork on Saturday.

"I was going to ride in Dundalk on Wednesday but my little brother Donnacha jocked me off it," he laughed yesterday.

under control

"I think I have it (weight) back down and under control," O'Brien admitted.

"I'd say I'll be back at Cork on Saturday or probably Monday. I think I have two Mick and David Easterby on Monday and I'm not sure about Saturday yet so we'll see what happens."

Looking back on last weekend he said: "I always said that I'd have a couple of rides over jumps and Egyptian Warrior was running at Limerick and I had done plenty of the schooling on him and Frank (Berry, racing manager to JP McManus) said he wouldn't mind if I rode him and I did.

"I really enjoyed it. The horse popped away fine, the ground was a bit soft for him and hopefully there might be a day or two in him during the summer.

"We have plenty of horses and a few there that could mix both codes in their own grade and it'll be a bit of sport and if a couple of them win along the way that would be great."

Aidan O'Brien's only upcoming entry over jumps at the moment is Marchese Marconi who has been given top weight by the handicapper in the novice handicap hurdle on the opening day of the Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse on Sunday and if he runs, O'Brien jnr could well to be making the trip to take the ride.

"If he runs I might go and ride him but we'll have a look at the race and I'm not sure yet what the plan about him running is."

On the future he said; "I'm really looking forward to having another couple of spins. It's going to be a long year ahead and we'll have plenty of horses to run and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into it.

"I don't see myself having a proper crack at the jumps any time soon anyway, I think at the moment we have a couple of nice horses that we'll be kicking on with during the summer and into the winter and I'm happy enough to sit on a couple of them at the moment anyway."

The 21-year-old did admit that the dream of riding a Cheltenham Festival winner is very much in the back of his mind.

"Without a doubt anyone that ever rides over jumps wants to end up riding at Cheltenham... that is the pinnacle.

regular

Reflecting on the Curragh last Sunday and the 66 Ballydoyle based horses that went for what is now a regular appearance of the Classic contenders working after racing, O'Brien said; "It has kind of become (a regular outing) almost by accident but it suits brilliant for us and it is just nice to get them onto the horsebox and away to see the crowd and it's nice for the people to see the horses so early in the season even though we obviously don't learn very much because the ground is so bad."

"They probably didn't do as much to look at them as they did in previous years but when the ground is that bad their legs are working overtime so they did plenty and it's a nice start to the year so we'll look forward to them getting out into races in the next few weeks and months.

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