O'Brien rolls back the years
Published 03/03/2013 | 19:36
Aidan O'Brien is set to be represented at this year's Cheltenham Festival after Shield booked his place in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper with a fine victory at Leopardstown.
The master of Ballydoyle had not saddled a National Hunt runner in over eight years prior to Shield and stable companion Egyptian Warrior making their racecourse debuts at Punchestown last month.
Having finished fourth and fifth respectively on that occasion, both horses were turned out again for the Killiney INH Flat Race. Shield was sent off at 8-1 and picked up well in the home straight in the hands of Kate Harrington to beat favourite Grecian Tiger by half a length.
O'Brien senior said: "Sarah (daughter, who rode Egyptian Warrior) is starting to ride in bumpers now and that's the reason I have a few horses for bumpers.
"I'm delighted with that and Kate thought that she wanted to drop him in a bit more after Punchestown. Kate gave him a great ride and he travelled well and quickened well. He was just ready to run the first day and just ran a bit green.
"Joseph and the lads got him ready for Punchestown but were forcing him a little bit to get there as he had to finish in the first four to be qualified to enter for Cheltenham. I think Joseph is able to get special permission to ride him in the Cheltenham bumper - he inquired about it during the week.
"Shield is a homebred and by Dylan Thomas, they get better with every year. He is a lovely, good looking horse and I have a few more bumper horses also ready to run."