Joseph O'Brien Exclusive: Get the rundown on my weekend runners in my debut column

Joseph O'Brien trainer
Joseph O'Brien says the National Hunt season has gone well for his yard

In his first B.B column, Betfair Ambassador Joseph O'Brien looks ahead to Cheltenham and gives his insight on his runners in Dundalk and Naas this weekend...

"A lot of those young horses that have been brought along steadily for the last couple of years are starting to deliver and we have built up a good team of horses that we hope can go and compete at the spring festivals."

All roads to Cheltenham

Welcome to my first column for Betfair!

This is obviously a very exciting time of year for everyone here on Owning Hill with the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner. Like most people involved in National Hunt racing, we have one eye on Cheltenham from the start of the season and are counting down the days to March 12.

We've been really happy with how our National Hunt season has gone so far. Last season, we had a lot of summer horses and young horses on the go, whereas this season we had less winners over the summer months, but have had a much stronger winter. A lot of those young horses that have been brought along steadily for the last couple of years are starting to deliver and we have built up a good team of horses that we hope can go and compete at the spring festivals.

The equine flu situation in Great Britain earlier this month has led to some inconvenience for Irish trainers, but it's the same for everyone and I don't expect it to slow down our preparations here.

Looking ahead to the next couple of days, we will be looking forward to Dundalk on Friday evening as always. We have had a good winter up there so far and are likely to run a couple of nice three-year-olds in the fillies' maiden over a mile.

Friday

Good pair to run against each other

17:30 Dundalk - Lovee Dovee & Full Moon Magic

Lovee Dovee is a well-bred daughter of Galileo that was working nicely before her debut, but just seemed to be undone by her inexperience and a bad draw on the day. It is fairly unusual for one of ours to win on debut and if they do, they are usually quite smart. I'd expect her to come on a lot from that experience and she'll hopefully be tough to beat.

I also run a newcomer against her in Full Moon Magic. She works well enough to suggest she can win a maiden later in the year and we're looking forward to getting her started. In a perfect world, it would be great to be able to keep all these horses apart, but there are only a relatively small number of races at Dundalk during the winter season, so I often end up running a few of mine against each other.

Sunday

We won't be overly busy with runners over the weekend as the ground is likely to be quick enough both at Fairyhouse and Naas, but we have a few to look forward to at Naas.

Both can compete in this one

14:30 Naas - Uisce Beatha

The Paddy Power 6th Bet Free Novice Handicap Chase is a race that we won with Edwulf two years ago and we have another runner in it for JP this year in Uisce Beatha. He is stepping up in trip and class after winning a maiden chase last time, but I'd be hopeful that he is progressive enough to compete off his mark. This is a good pot and I'd be looking forward to seeing how he gets on.

Nice prospect and one to watch

17:05 Naas - Midnight Run

The Paddy Power Horsebot INH Flat Race has cut up a little bit from the entry stage. We will be represented by Midnight Run and he looks to have a good chance. He was impressive when making a winning debut at Galway in October and ran very well when second to Envoi Allen at Navan last time. For a few strides it looked like Midnight Run might really shake him up, but Envoi Allen found more in the closing stages. I think Midnight Run is a really nice prospect, particularly for novice hurdles next season, and it will be great to see him out again.

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