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'It was some experience' - O'Keeffe delight at partnering Bob Olinger to victory

Bob Olinger: opened account over fences at Gowran on Saturday
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Saturday: Gowran Park

Darragh O'Keeffe was effusive in his praise for Bob Olinger after the supreme talent produced a more than satisfactory debut over fences without being foot-perfect, solidifying his position at the head of the Marsh Novices' Chase market.

Bidding to avoid the same fate as stablemates Minella Indo and A Plus Tard, who were beaten in this 2m4f beginners' chase here in recent years, the Robcour-owned star skipped six and a half lengths clear of 148-rated hurdler Bacardys to make a winning return.

His jumping was novicey at times, particularly on the landing side of the third-last, but on the whole he looked largely comfortable in a quality race as 1-3 favourite.


Watch a replay of Bob Olinger's chasing debut at Gowran


Betfair and Paddy Power trimmed the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle hero to 2-1 favourite (from 5-2) for a Cheltenham Festival follow-up in the Marsh next March.

"It was some experience," said a visibly delighted O'Keeffe, who got the plum ride due to Rachael Blackmore being in action at Haydock to partner A Plus Tard in the Betfair Chase.

"He jumped brilliant and travelled great. It's as good a feeling I've ever got on the racetrack."

He added: "If you want to be critical of him you could say he was a little bit novicey over some of his fences, but it's his first start in a chase and these fences take plenty of jumping. Overall, I thought he jumped very good and he'll come on plenty for today.

"He has the scope and won a point-to-point for Pat Doyle. We know he has the engine and today was about getting around and seeing how things go. It's unbelievable to get the chance to ride a horse like him."

A tilt at the Grade 1 Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick this Christmas is now under consideration for the point-to-point debut winner, although trainer Henry de Bromhead, speaking from Haydock, insisted that plans remain fluid for the deeply exciting six-year-old.

Darragh O'Keeffe on Bob Olinger: "Overall, I thought he jumped very good and he'll come on plenty for today"

"I was delighted and it was lovely to see the way he jumped," said De Bromhead.

"He was a little bit sketchy at the last but I think Darragh was just trying to get him over it. I couldn't be happier. That's what we were wishing for today. He was tanking away and I thought he was loving it."

He added: "I don't know where he'll go next. There's the race at Limerick over Christmas but I'm not sure. We just wanted to get that out of the way. We're in no panic over what we do next."

Saint Felicien impresses

It proved a good afternoon for the Robcour team as Saint Felicien created an excellent impression on his Irish debut in the 2m four-year-old novice hurdle.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, the exciting talent will soon be ineligible for novice hurdles due to the timing of his Auteuil win in March but clearly has a bright future.

"There's an awful lot of improvement in him," said Elliott.

"I think he's a fair horse. I don't know where we're going to go with him. We'll try to split them up, we have Teahupoo and a few others for the same sort of thing, but I'll talk to the owner and see what he wants to do."


Results, replays and analysis


Read these next:

A Plus Tard made new Gold Cup favourite after 22-length Betfair Chase rout

Resurgent Lostintranslation cut for King George after winning reappearance

Bob Olinger and Bravemansgame: who impressed more on their chase debut? (Members' Club)


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He jumped brilliant and travelled great. It's as good a feeling I've ever got on the racetrack
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