Joseph O'Brien: Cheltenham Festival Underdog

Joseph O’Brien is a figure in racing that has truly done more as both a trainer and jockey in just five years than most people have done in there whole career and he is still just 25 years of age.

As a jockey he rode 31 Group 1 winners mainly for his father Aidan O'Brien in which he also landed two wins in the Epsom Derby. There came a point in the young mans career that he could no longer make the weight to ride consistently due to his stature and from there went into training.

Before officially going off on his own as a trainer he studied under the tutelage of his father and was given all the credit for the success of Ivanovich Gorbatov in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.

Having eventually been granted his own licence to train horses in June 2016, he then managed to get four winners on his first meeting and has never looked back since.

During his training career so far he has gained four separate Group 1 wins on the Flat and has enjoyed Grade 1 success with Tower Bridge and Edwulf over jumps, which came in his first full season as a National Hunt trainer in 2017/18.

Joseph O'Brien is categorised as a dual trainer and in years become could become the stand out name in this division.

In his first year as a National Hunt trainer he finished third in the championship behind the two leading trainers in Irleand Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.

With Cheltenham just a small six weeks away we are going to look into some of O'Brien's runners for the festival after at the Trials meeting on Saturday he picked up his first ever winner at Prestbury Park.

Fakir D'oudairies

Leading nicely into the first horse of O'Brien's we think is worth a watch for the Cheltenham Festival is the winner of his first at the Gloucestershire track with Fakir D'oudairies.

This four year old gelding looks a really bright spark for the yard and has two entries at the Cheltenham Festival with his most likely avenue being the first race on the Friday in the Triumph Hurdle in which he is a 11/2 favourite after his superb victory on Saturday in the trial for this race.

Fakir D'oudairies has only had two starts this season and they have both come this year and in both his outings he remains unbeaten.

His first race of 2019 came at Cork and he really did make some headlines finishing first of the 22 runner maiden field, staying on really well in the run in.

Next time out at Cheltenham he did very much the same coming up to the last two fences and leaving the field behind travelling strongly up the hill to land the Grade 2 contest. This horse needs to be taken seriously at the festival having a lot going in his favour.

Sir Erec

The next horse to follow from Joseph O'Brien's yard is another four year old that is set to run in the Triumph Hurdle and really give the trainer a headache as to race them together or separately and that is Sir Erec for owner J P McManus.

This youngster has showed a lot of quality this season to make the assumption he could be in the frame at a currently nice price for the first race on the Friday.

Sir Erec before the jumps season came around was a staying flat horse and landed a Listed contest at Limerick and then went on to finish third in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day.

Started his hurdles career off at Leopardstown he made a very pleasing start finishing first out of a field of 28, taking to hurdles really well and showing good stamina over the 2 miles.

It is a nice conundrum to have as a trainer but for O'Brien it is all about making the right decision as to which race these two horses actually run in.

Le Richebourg

The final horse and for us is the trainers biggest chance of a winner at this years festival and that is Le Richebourg who has two possible entries at the four day meeting with the Arkle which he is best priced 7/1 and the JLT Novices Chase where he is 14/1.

It looks most likely he will be heading into the second Grade 1 race of the festival on the Tuesday in the Arkle Chase and this race looks one of the hardest to pick a winner in but this J P McManus owned six year old looks a class act.

This season he has had four starts where he has gone on to score in three of them and finish a very narrow second in another, with all four of these contests being against high quality opposition in Graded company.

He started his season off in September in a beginners chase at Listowel and he readily landed the odds in that one before stepping up to a Grade 3 at Tipperary and again warranting favouritism in the market to land the spoils.

At this point the O'Brien trained gelding looked a smart chasing prospect and went to Fairyhouse and was just edged out on the line in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novices Chase by RSA joint favourite Delta Work.

He picked things back up in his next grade 1 and firmly put his name into the Arkle equation when landing the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase beating some other Irish horses that could challenge him at the festival.

With the Arkle market showing to be very unpredictable and this six year old giving a clear indication of Grade 1 form it would be hard to back against him at a generous current price at 7/1.