O’Brien trio in Spring line-up
The view from connections ahead of the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, in which Joseph O'Brien runs three.
Joseph O'Brien and JP McManus are well represented in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
Joseph O'Brien is keeping his fingers crossed Housesofparliament can find the necessary improvement to make his presence felt in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Beaten just three-quarters of a length into third in the St Leger at Doncaster last September, the son of Galileo is clearly an exciting recruit to the jumping game.
He made his National Hunt debut in a maiden hurdle at this venue over Christmas and while he was no match for the reopposing Meri Devie, that experience will not have been lost on the Galileo gelding.
O'Brien also saddles Royal Ascot hero and Group Two winner Sword Fighter, who was fifth in the same Leopardstown maiden hurdle, and Bhutan, who has not been seen since beating Housesofparliament on his only Flat start here last April.
"Housesofparliament ran a good race to finish second here the first day and we're hoping he'll come on from that," said the trainer.
"Sword Fighter has had a run as well, so hopefully he'll improve, and Bhutan is a nice horse having his first run over hurdles.
"He beat Housesofparliament on his only run on the Flat and the experience will do him well."
The JP McManus-owned trio are part of a strong team transferred from Aidan O'Brien's stable to go jumping in the famous green and gold silks.
The most prolific horse to have made the switch is Landofhopeandglory, who won his first three starts over jumps before finding Bapaume too strong here in December.
O'Brien decided against running his charge this weekend, but he could still have one more outing before a likely appearance in the Triumph Hurdle at next month's Cheltenham Festival.
He said: "He's in good form and he'll either go straight to Cheltenham, or we could run in a Grade Three in Fairyhouse beforehand."
Willie Mullins, who has trained the last two winners of this Grade One contest in Petite Parisienne and Footpad, saddles both Bapaume and Meri Devie, with stable jockey Ruby Walsh siding with the former.
The champion trainer's son and assistant, said: "Both of them have won at the track, which I always think is a big advantage.
"Bapaume obviously has a bit more experience, but the filly is getting 7lb, which will help her.
"I don't think there's a whole lot between them and I'm sure it was a tough enough choice for Ruby."
Gordon Elliott is represented by Mega Fortune, who was third behind Bapaume and Landofhopeandglory over the festive period, as well as runaway Cork scorer Dinaria Des Obeaux.
Mega Fortune's rider, Davy Russell, said in his Betway blog: "It looks an unbelievably competitive race on paper with the two unbeaten talented fillies at the foot of the card and the likes of Bapaume and Housesofparliament, too.
"The more rain that falls the better for my fellow as his ability to handle bad ground is his strength against the likes of these."
Ellmarie Holden's Fairyhouse winner Ex Patriot and Michael Mulvany's hurdling debutant On The Go Again complete the nine-strong field.