Joseph O'Brien joined Ger Gilroy and Johnny Ward on our special HRI Christmas Remote Roadshow, and has given us an idea of his Christmas racing plans for two top runners.
O'Brien says that both Fakir D'oudairies and Le Richebourg are likely to make a change in trips when they race at Leopardstown during the Christmas festival.
Fakir D'oudairies has been entered among a star-studded field for the Grade 1 Savill's Steeplechase, which takes place at 3pm on Monday December 28th at Leopardstown.
The five-year-old finished second behind Notebook in a two-mile run at Naas back in November, a first run out since being runner up to Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham back in March.
And despite being involved with some heavy competition - Minella Indo, Champ and Presenting Percy to name just three - O'Brien says they have been planning to step Fakir D'oudairies up too three miles for some time.
"We would have a rough idea, I suppose Fakir D'oudairies was second on his comeback run in Naas a couple of weeks ago. He’ll probably go to Leopardstown. There’s a chance he might run in the three mile race I’d say. Stepping up in trip is something we’ve been looking forward to doing with him.
"We always saw him as a horse that would be better when he went up in distance but probably in an ideal world you’d like to be going up to two and a half but he didn’t have that option in Grade 1 company."
Joseph O'Brien on Le Richebourg
The two horses who beat Fakir D'oudairies in his previous outings - Notebook and Put The Kettle On - have both been entered for the Grade 1 Paddy's Rewards Club Chase on Sunday the 27th, and O'Brien says they are possibly eyeing Le Richebourg for a run in that race.
The JP McManus-owned seven-year-old pulled up on his last outing at Punchestown this month over two miles and four furlongs, with O'Brien confident they can get more out of him on better ground and a shorter trip.
"We have Le Richebourg, he had his comeback run and got a bit tired in Punchestown, but Mark (Walsh) was happy that he showed enough enthusiasm through the race, and he might go to the two-mile race at Leopardstown.
"Mark was very happy with him through the race, he said he jumped well and felt good and just got a bit tired with him. The ground was quite heavy, he’s not a heavy ground horse really so he’ll go to Leopardstown on what will probably be nicer ground and I suppose we’ll find out more then, but we’d be hopeful he can get back to somewhere clos to his best."