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Dobbs banking on Girl power

Prunella Dobbs has had no luck at the Cheltenham Festival - but that has not deterred her from having another go.

The Wicklow-based handler, who barely has more than 10 horses in training at a time, sends Our Girl Salley for Tuesday's David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle, run this year as the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

A year ago the horse was all set to run in the same race, only to scope badly a week before the Festival, so the trainer has so far had only one runner at the meeting - and that did not go to plan either as Farringdon beat only one horse home in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle of 2009.

Dobbs, who is assisted by her husband George, has held a licence since 2002 and is looking forward to having another bite at the cherry with Our Girl Salley, a prolific winner whose last victory was in a Grade Three event at Leopardstown in December.

She said: "We were all on song for last year, but in her last piece of work before the meeting she didn't go too well and we found she had a dirty scope. That was very disappointing.

"We came to Ascot in January and she was third in a mares' race. I don't think the trip was a problem - she did stay the three miles. I think it was more how the race was run that was against us.

"There was no pace because the horse that would have probably made the running was taken out in the morning. It became a sprint, and that didn't really suit us. I think a strongly run two and a half miles at Cheltenham will suit, and the better ground will not bother her.

"The race will be very testing with Quevega in the field and it will be a big ask to beat her, but I hope we will have a good outing."

The Dobbs operation is small-scale, and she went on: "We train on our own farm, so we have all our facilities here. We look out to sea and sometimes in the winter we can see the peaks of Wales from the house when there is no vapour on the water.

"We only keep 10 or 12 horses in training at any one time. It's absolutely huge to have a horse that might be competitive at Cheltenham and we've had Our Girl Salley since she was a four-year-old."


From Belfast Telegraph