Options for Essex return

Michael O’Brien’s smart hurdler Essex is set to make his return from a near two-year absence at either Dundalk or Leopardstown later this week.

Michael O’Brien’s smart hurdler Essex is set to make his return from a near two-year absence at either Dundalk or Leopardstown later this week.

The 2005 totesport Trophy winner has been sidelined with tendon and breathing problems since running on the level in August 2007 but O’Brien has been pleased with his recent work.

The nine-year-old could lock horns with the likes of Harchibald and Al Eile on the all-weather at Dundalk on Friday night but his County Kildare handler is currently favouring a return to hurdles on Sunday.

“We’ve entered him at Dundalk and Leopardstown but at this stage I would say he will run in a conditions race on Sunday,” said O’Brien.

“The conditions of the race will suit him well and his work this morning was very pleasing. He is definitely ready for a run.

“The ground doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to him as long as it’s not real sticky.

“He’s had a little bit of tendon trouble and a bit of a problem with his wind but we have sorted that out and hopefully we can get him back to his best.

“He’s not in at Cheltenham this year but all being well he could run at Fairyhouse and Punchestown.”

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