In the lead-up to the Cheltenham Festival Joseph O'Brien has six runners in Ireland over the weekend, and here he gives his exclusive views on them all...
"...the main thing is that this looks like a good drop in class for her. Hopefully she’ll be able to capitalise on that and get back on track."
Joseph O'Brien on Castra Vetera
Saturday - Gowran Park
Needs to brush up his jumping
16:00 - Triplicate
Triplicate has been a bit disappointing over fences so far. His jumping has been just okay and will need to improve if he is to fulfil his potential over fences. Stepping into handicap company should give him a better chance to get competitive, but he really will need to jump a bit better against these experienced handicappers.
Sunday - Naas
Not too hopeful about either runner
15:15 - Choungaya and Shady Operator
Choungaya has so far failed to build on his promising chasing debut behind Tornado Flyer at Naas back in November. He got no further than the first fence on his handicap debut in the Thyestes, so hopefully he'll do better than that this time! It's hard to be confident in his chance. The ability is there, he just needs to put it all together.
Shady Operator isn't the easiest horse to figure out. He has run reasonably well in his last two starts and we are going back in trip with him here. Rather than it being a question of finding his right trip, the reality might just be that the handicapper has a fairly good hold of him at present.
Stiff test for both but hopeful Entoucas can go well
15:45 - Entoucas and Meticulous
Entoucas deservedly got off the mark in a maiden hurdle over this course and distance last time. He has always shown plenty and it was great to see him win. Hopefully he can build on that now, though this is a tough test for him and he'll need to improve if the official ratings are close to the mark. Conditions will suit him and I'd be hopeful he'll run well.
Meticulous was one of our best bumper horses last season. It took us time to get him to the track this season, but he shaped well enough on his hurdling debut in a Grade 2 novice at Punchestown last month. This is another stiff test for him, but hopefully he can find improvement and run a solid race.
Drop in class will help her get back on track
17:20 - Castra Vetera
Castra Vetera made an impressive winning debut at Fairyhouse in December, but disappointed us a bit when only eighth in a Grade 2 mares' bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival. The return to softer ground will be a help to her, but the main thing is that this looks like a good drop in class for her. Hopefully she'll be able to capitalise on that and get back on track.