O’Dwyer: Hardy Eustace my best chance of success at Festival

CONOR O’DWYER, on the eve of his 41st birthday, believes if he is to ride a winner at Cheltenham next week it will be Hardy Eustace in the Champion Hurdle.

“I have bits and pieces here and there, but Hardy Eustace is my baby, he’s my best chance”, said O’Dwyer.

He admitted to being “gutted” when Mouse Morris rang to tell him last year’s Gold Cup hero, War Of Attrition, had sustained an injury and was out of the Festival.

“I couldn’t believe it, I was devastated. He is a horse without flaws, jumps and stays and was the only danger to Kauto Star!”

Four times O’Dwyer has tasted success at Cheltenham and delights when you again tell him he doesn’t bother with the ‘minor’ races there.

His wins have come in the Gold Cup on Imperial Call and War Of Attrition and twice in the Champion Hurdle with Hardy Eustace.

“We were absolutely thrilled with Hardy when he beat Brave Inca in the AIG at Leopardstown”, remarked O’Dwyer.

“I honestly thought Brave Inca would win. Dessie (Hughes) felt he could have done more with Hardy Eustace and that he was fat. It was a fair performance by my fellow.”

Previously, Hardy Eustace was beaten a length by current Champion Hurdle favourite Detroit City in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham in December.

It was a day when O’Dwyer shipped some criticism for his tactics, having allowed Richard Johnson to largely dictate matters on the grey.

“I could have done things differently, but you only have a split second to make a decision”, admitted O’Dwyer.

“Detroit City wasn’t jumping well, so I decided to leave him alone. Maybe, if I had taken him on it would have worked out better, but it might also have been to his advantage.”

In any case, he was greatly impressed by Detroit City. “It was a hell of a display on his part and I doubt there will be much between him and Hardy Eustace next week.”

He hasn’t sat on Hardy Eustace since the AIG. “Robbie Hennessy (Hughes’ stable amateur) does all the work with the horse and that never changes”, said O’Dwyer.

Very much into the veteran stage now, he has no thoughts about retiring. “I have done the trainer’s course and intend to go training in the next year or so. I am waiting on planning permission.

“At first, I am going to mix riding and training and, at the moment, am not putting any time scale on retirement.”

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