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Pat Doyle at the Cheltenham double with Appreciate It and Bob Olinger

Master of Suirview Stables boasts a lengthy festival roll of honour

Bob Olinger: the Pat Doyle graduate wins the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham
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Appreciate It and Bob Olinger, heroes of the Supreme and Ballymore Novices' Hurdle respectively, have more in common than simply both being wide-margin Cheltenham Festival winners.

Both began their path to Grade 1 glory under the handling of renowned point-to-point trainer Pat Doyle, who operates out of Suirview Stables in County Tipperary. Appreciate It finished third to none other than Envoi Allen on debut at Ballinaboola before comfortably scoring at Dromahane, while Bob Olinger struck by clear water at Turtulla.

"It's fantastic to have those horses, to bring them on and see what they're doing now is absolutely amazing," said Doyle. "It's fabulous and all of our family is getting a huge kick out of it. I'm sitting down watching the racing with my son but we get very excited, we've been riding finishes and everything!"

Appreciate It, who was bred by Barmakin Limited and South Lodge Stud, was sourced from the Tattersalls Ireland Derby Sale, where he fetched €60,000, while Bob Olinger ran between the flags for his breeder Ken Parkhill, who also bred recent festival scorers in Ferny Hollow and City Island.

"I bought Appreciate It at the Derby Sale, myself and Donnchadh Doyle bought him between us, and Bob Olinger was for an owner-breeder," said Doyle. "They're two completely different horses.

"I didn't think Appreciate It would be a two-mile horse, I thought he'd want further but Willie Mullins is different gravy! The faster horse when we had them was Bob Olinger, but Appreciate It had a huge stride so you wouldn't really know how fast he was really going."

Pat Doyle: "I never imagined we'd be spending the kind of money we're spending"

Appreciate It and Bob Olinger join a lengthy list of high-achievers who bear Doyle's fingerprints, including past festival winners like First Lieutenant, Shattered Love and Brindisi Breeze, other recent Grade 1 winners such as Bacardys, Death Duty and No More Heroes, while he was also responsible for breaking in dual Champion Hurdle hero Monksfield.

Doyle, who turns 65 this year and says he saddled his first pointer over 40 years ago, rather modestly puts this lengthy roll of honour down to good luck, although acknowledges that a general raising of standards across the point-to-point business has played its part.

"We're so lucky to have great facilities here, most point-to-point trainers do nowadays because the horses are so expensive to buy," he said. "Back when I started we had no facilities, no all weather gallops, we just cantered around stubble fields but now everyone has unbelievable facilities.

"It's not like it was 30 years ago when you'd go to a four-year-old maiden and there'd be six runners and one finisher. Now it's proper racing.

"I never imagined we'd be spending the kind of money we're spending on horses either but that's the way it's gone. I'm lucky to have good trainers like Willie Mullins and Henry De Bromhead buying from me too, they're good men to have on your side."

The Irish point-to-point industry has been showcased to great effect at Cheltenham this week, with fellow Grade 1 winners Honeysuckle, Monkfish, Shishkin and Sir Gerhard all graduating from the sphere.

Appreciate It wins the Supreme Novices' Hurdle

However, the sport and those who make their living from it have endured a torrid time in recent months, with point-to-pointing having been suspended since January 13 on account of Covid-19 protocols. The Irish government's Level 5 restrictions remain in place until at least April 5.

"It's very hard on the industry," said Doyle of the enforced shutdown. "If it comes back in April it's probably going to be too late for us because the ground isn't going to be right to be running nice horses.

"We've backed off all our four-year-olds now and we're going to leave them until the autumn. We have 20 still to run and we would've hoped to have one or two at the sale that would've usually been on during this meeting too.

"It's going to be very hard at the store sales this year, I don't know whether we'll be able to compete having so many still to sell on. We'll have to keep buying horses but I don't know what kind of money we'll be able to give."

Despite the pressure of pointing being postponed, there could yet be further cause for celebration in the Doyle household later this week when former Suirview Stables residents Asterion Forlonge (Marsh Novices' Chase) and Colreevy (Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase) tackle their respective targets.

More Cheltenham reads: 

'I've never bred anything like this!' - Supreme success for Frank McNulty

Honeysuckle makes road trip all the sweeter for Doug Procter

The stallions, dams and breeders who have shaped the Cheltenham Festival

How rags-to-riches Cheltenham Festival winners are becoming harder to find


Back when I started we had no facilities, no all weather gallops, we just cantered around stubble fields
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