Joseph O’Brien off the mark for season

Joseph O’Brien insisted his weight “isn’t too bad” as he returned to the winner’s enclosure on the Flat for the first time this season.

Joseph O’Brien off the mark for season

O’Brien missed the start of the Irish turf campaign at the Curragh and rode over hurdles, and recently his father, Aidan, has spoken of Ryan Moore taking more of the rides on the big guns at Ballydoyle this term.

But O’Brien junior is still involved and was at Leopardstown yesterday, where he drove 3-1 chance Hans Holbein – a horse he partnered at Cork recently — to a two-and-three-quarter-length victory from the odds-on Valac in the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown Summer Racedays Maiden.

O’Brien said: “It’s nice to get one.

“He relaxed well and got an easy lead. He seems to handle a little give in the ground and I think he can step up in trip.

“He improved plenty from Cork and hopefully he can progress again. There was plenty of chat beforehand about the other horse and I was expecting him to come at me.

“Our horses always improve from their first run.”

Reflecting on his weight situation, he told At The Races: “My weight isn’t too bad, I’m doing 9st 5lb no problem and a little bit lighter when the season kicks in.

“It (weight) has not been too much dissimilar to previous years, we have Ryan on board now this year which is great and takes a bit of pressure off me in so far as my weight. It’s not too bad now, so we’re looking forward to the season getting going.

“I was always in touch with Ryan a lot, we get on very well and discuss all the horses. I’m really looking forward to the year.

“If there is a 9st or a 9st 3lb towards the (end of the) year I think I really should do I’ll do it, I’ll play it by ear a little bit.”

O’Brien has had a couple of falls in his handful of outings over timber but said that came with the territory, although he reiterated he had no plans to become an increasingly prominent figure on the jumping scene in the immediate future.

He said: “That (falls) is part and and parcel of it and I’ll have a couple more spins in the next couple of weeks or so. I’m happy enough with the way we are at the moment.

“We’ve a couple that might go to Punchestown and through the summer, it’s something I really enjoy. I did a lot of eventing when I was younger and loved every minute of it. As far as taking it up on a full-time basis, I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m quite happy to keep going the way we are going at the minute.”

Coral Scottish Grand National favourite Gallant Oscar will run in the colours of JP McManus at Ayr on Saturday.

The leading owner has bought the Tony Martin-trained nine-year-old, who will be ridden by Paul Carberry, with McManus’ retained rider Tony McCoy unable to do the current allotted weight of 10st 1lb.

Gallant Oscar was last seen finishing third to The Druids Nephew at the Cheltenham Festival. McCoy is instead set to ride Benvolio for Paul Nicholls.

Speaking to The Irish Field, Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: “Paul Carberry will ride Gallant Oscar but the horse won’t run at all if the ground dries out too much. It’s fine at the moment but it is drying.”

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