Battleoverdoyen sure to win plenty of wars

You cannot do what this horse has done in such a short time and not be regarded as potentially top class, writes Pat Keane.

The Samcro door may have shut firmly in the faces of Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown, but another has immediately swung open in the shape of the imposing Battleoverdoyen, who, in just 39 days, has captured the public’s imagination.

Successful in his only point-to-point, at Naas last Sunday he retained his unbeaten record on the racecourse, winning his third contest in-a-row.

A huge horse, Battleoverdoyen was likened by one paddock observer on track to the giant Harcon, a massive beast, who was very smart for Jim Dreaper in the 90s, winning seven races.

The now six-year-old made his debut between the flags at Loughanmore, in Co Antrim, for Jerry Cosgrave on April 15, 2017. He took a nine-runner maiden by three lengths from a horse called Court Liability.

Now Court Liability is trained in England by Harry Whittington and has since run four times. He has won all four, starting with a bumper at Fontwell and then three over flights, at Sedgefield, Hereford and Musselburgh.

Following his success in a point, it was over 19 months before Battleoverdoyen was seen again, starting off in a bumper at Punchestown on November 28, when scoring by six and a half lengths.

The third and fourth horses then, Active Force and Ash Hill, have both won in the meantime, which makes the runner-up, Minella Beat, rather interesting.

At Punchestown, he was in the care of John Nallen, but has now gone to England to be trained by Jamie Snowden. He has yet to appears for new connections.

After Punchestown, Battleoverdoyen made his debut over hurdles at Navan and gave as impressive a display of jumping as one could wish to see.

He was absolutely electric at his obstacles, toying with 20 rivals and just strolling up the straight to win by 13 lengths, a margin that could have been doubled had Jack Kennedy so wished.

The form of that race hasn’t worked out at all, however, and so it was impossible to predict just how Battleoverdoyen might cope with entirely different opposition, in that Naas Grade 1.

This was very competitive and there weren’t many of the eight-strong field you could say wouldn’t win for sure.

When Battleoverdoyen came under pressure off the home turn my instant reaction was that he was beaten and had only limited opposition to beat hadn’t he only coped with trees at Navan anyway.

But nothing could have been further from the truth and, once straightening for home, as Kennedy got him balanced, there was only going to be one winner.

Experience has long taught us that when a horse goes from looking to be in real trouble to eventually winning easily then only an idiot wouldn’t take due notice.

That is precisely what happened with Battleoverdoyen. He found loads for pressure and was just under three lengths clear of the promising Sams Profile when the line was reached.

For such a big horse, he handled the good surface remarkably well, but surely will be even better when meeting easier conditions.

There can be little doubt that the correct race for him at Cheltenham will be the two miles and five Ballymore Novice Hurdle.

Hopefully, we will see him again prior to the festival, but, 6-1 this week for the Ballymore represented reasonable odds.

IT was only a two-horse affair, but it was still delightful to see the wraps finally taken of Laurina at Sandown last Saturday.

Predictably, she totally outclassed Sensulano, beating her rival by 48 lengths, and all it told us, I suppose, is that Laurina still has a tail and four legs.

Realistically, though, it was a bit more informative than that. It revealed she has returned in rude good health and simply looked as being on very good terms with herself.

There was a great spring in her jumping and confirmed, what we have known since she came to Ireland from France: she has a real appetite for the job in hand.

Laurina, who was beaten in both her races in her native country, has won all five for Willie Mullins and will give him a strong hand in the Champion Hurdle, along with Melon and Sharjah.

Mind you, you can bet all the tea in China that if the three face the starter Ruby Walsh will be aboard Laurina.

She is already a very good mare and may well be a great mare. The worry with her is she has only raced on ground that has been at least soft, or worse.

That may not be a major concern though, because you just cannot envisage Cheltenham starting - the Champion Hurdle is the first day - on ground without the word soft figuring in its description.

Mullins will obviously do the right thing by Laurina, but we would love to see her in a decent contest before Cheltenham.

Buveur D’Air aside, who has his own questions to answer, this is as weak a Champion Hurdle as you can get and 4-1 each-way Laurina shapes as literally a wager to nothing.

TUNED into Racing TV last Sunday to view the only meeting they had, Naas, and was again disappointed.

There wasn’t a whole lot wrong with the coverage, lots of views of the horses in the parade ring, on the way to the start and plenty of intelligent conversation.

But Racing TV has to realise that Irish punters like a bit of fun, a bit of craic and enjoy a laugh while they are losing, or, occasionally, winning.

Besides the seven races, there were times when you could be forgiven for thinking you had gate-crashed a funeral, such was the sombre nature of what was on offer!

They seem to be tied into a set way of doing things and there is little flexibility. Immediately after each race they showed it again, while we were screaming for a look at the winner’s enclosure.

When such as Gigginstown or J P McManus have a winner then you know it will be a case of the usual suspects showing up in the said enclosure.

But when a smaller trainer is successful then curiosity is increased.That was the case at Naas when Terence O’Brien, from my home village of Carrigtwohill, saddled the imposing Articulum to land a very impressive win in a novice chase.

The whole village would have been with O’Brien and everyone wanted to see the horse come back to the number one berth and watch the celebrations unfold. But we got none of that.

Racing TV needs to lighten up and begin to understand the Irish mentality. And they can do it, on the evidence of their new programme last night week, focusing on Dundalk.

It was anchored by Rishi Peshad and had two excellent guests in Martin Dwyer and particularly Fran Berry

This was highly entertaining, with Berry regaling us with stories about places most of us can only dream of visiting, Macau, Singapore and India.

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