Landofhopeandglory heads Triumph lists as he stars in Geraghty spree
One of the many interesting aspects over the coming months will be following the fortunes of Joseph O'Brien's classy recruits from the Flat, and the performance of Landofhopeandglory suggests it will be quite an adventure.
The 102-rated stayer on the Flat, who finished fourth when favourite for the Queen's Vase at Royal Ascot in the summer, jumped to the top of the Triumph Hurdle market with a stylish success in the 2m three-year-old hurdle in the hands of Barry Geraghty, who scored on four of his five rides.
Paddy Power reacted by making Landofhopeandglory 12-1 favourite for the Cheltenham race and the firm cut O'Brien to 2-1 from 5-2 to train the winner of the race, just like he did last year with Ivanovich Gorbatov.
"He was good – a bit novicey early, but from halfway he was getting the hang of it. It comes easier to some than others, but he has taken to it nicely," Geraghty said after the cosy win over stablemate Big Ben.
He added: "He came out of my hands at the one coming down from Ballyhack, which is a good sign, and he was very good from there home. It was a good performance and hopefully he can build on it. He did very well on the Flat, so if he can transfer that level of form to hurdles there should be plenty of fun with him. Not all horses can carry across Flat form to hurdles but it's so far so good with him."
Island ride earns praise
Geraghty began the day by coaxing the tricky Woodford Island to go past Jimmy Two Times in the beginners' chase – a ride that impressed winning trainer Gordon Elliott.
"I wasn't sure whether he was going to go by or not, but thankfully he did and Barry gave him a great ride," Elliott said. "He was unlucky at Down Royal as he was running well when he fell.
"We took a chance running him here but we just felt the beginners' chases were going to get hotter over the next few weeks so we'd best take our chance now. The horses are running well so we kept him rolling."
Elliott and Geraghty later teamed up to land the 2m4f novice hurdle with Fire In His Eyes, who found plenty for pressure having looked like he might struggle at one stage.
The Eric McNamara-trained Irish Bulletin was the second leg of the 62-1 four-timer for JP McManus's number-one jockey in the 3m handicap chase.
13 winners in four days for Elliott
Gordon Elliott has now sent out 13 winners in four days. He had four at Down Royal on Friday, two at the same venue on Saturday, three at Naas on Sunday, two at Cork and another two here. He must be gutted the next jumps meeting in Ireland is not until Naas on Saturday!
Thought for the day
It might sound crazy to some but there will be worse 2-1 shots than backing Joseph O'Brien to train the winner of the 2017 Triumph Hurdle. Landofhopeandglory is now favourite, but O'Brien also has St Leger third Housesofparliament, Sword Fighter, Bhutan, The Major General, Tree Of Knowledge, Triplicate, Cook Islands, Unicorn and Immortal Bridge still to show what they can do. He seems highly likely to be responsible for the favourite on the day and there is a chance that at least one of the aforementioned will be a superstar.