RIVER AND GORBATOV CARRY MELBOURNE CUP HERO O'BRIEN'S GREATWOOD HOPES
Fresh from becoming the youngest ever trainer to win the G1 Melbourne Cup, thanks to Rekindling's success in the "race that stops a nation" earlier this month, 24-year-old trainer Joseph O'Brien swaps the sunshine of Melbourne for the hustle and bustle of Prestbury Park, as he attempts to land today's feature race on day three of the November Meeting, the G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (3.00pm).
Following a brief, yet highly successful riding career on the Flat for his father Aidan which saw O'Brien become the youngest ever jockey to ride a Breeders' Cup winner [St Nicholas Abbey, Breeders' Cup Turf 2011] and spawned two Investec Derby successes [Camelot 2012 and Australia 2014] among a whole host of big-race wins, O'Brien started training 18 months ago at Owning Hill in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
Group One success quickly followed with Intricately landing the 2016 Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, partnered by Joseph's brother Donnacha and the dual-purpose handler has not looked back since, saddling over 100 winners under both codes.
O'Brien is doubly represented in the £100,000 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles. The J P McManus-owned Tigris River, a 10/1 chance for the G3 event with the sponsors, was last seen landing the Galway Hurdle in August and will be ridden by Barry Geraghty.
O'Brien said: "Tigris River has been in good form since he came back into the yard following a break after his win in the Galway Hurdle. He was a good winner that day and hopefully he will run well.
"The ground shouldn't be too much of an issue for him and he is improving with each run."
Ivanovich Gorbatov, also owned by McManus, was an impressive winner of the 2016 JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and finished a creditable sixth in the County Hurdle at this year's Festival. He will be partnered by Aidan Coleman.
O'Brien continued: "Ivanovich Gorbatov has also been in good form at home and he ran really well in the County Hurdle here last season, having also won the Triumph the year before.
"I'm pleased with him but there is the issue that the ground could be a slight concern for him as he wouldn't want it too soft."
When asked how the Home of Jump Racing compares to his Melbourne Cup victory, O'Brien added: "The Melbourne Cup was a very special experience. To be part of one of the biggest races in the world was unbelievable, but it's special to be at Cheltenham."
CLAISSE LEAVES GOING UNCHANGED
Simon Claisse, Cheltenham's clerk of the course, has left the going description unchanged from yesterday.
At 11.40am today he said: "We had a dry night and nothing has changed. We had 12 millimetres of rain in a short time yesterday, which will turn any ground - it was pretty soft and testing. We've left it as Soft, Heavy in places, and I think it will probably ride as testing as it did yesterday. There is no rain forecast for today - it is meant to be bright with sunny spells.
"After this meeting we change tracks from the Old Course to the New Course. The Old Course will be filled with soil, seeded, and germination covers will be put on the take-offs and landings of all the fences and on more heavily worn parts of the track. All the hurdles will come off and all the rails will come down to go on to the other track.
"The ground that we utilise at The Festival in March, with the exception of the intersections between the Old and New Courses, is all protected behind rail in October and November, so we haven't run on the March ground this weekend or at The Showcase Meeting.
"After a great day and a brilliant BetVictor Gold Cup yesterday, I am looking forward to another competitive afternoon of high-class racing today."
THE NOVEMBER MEETING 2017 - ALL THE WINNERS SO FAR
Countryside Day - Friday, November 17
12.40pm Markel Insurance Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
What A Moment (Bryan Drew & Steve Roper) David Pipe/Mr Richard Harding 11/1
1.15pm Fairlight Books Novices' Handicap Hurdle
Magic Dancer (Mark E Smith & The Magic Partnership) Kerry Lee/Richard Patrick 100/30 Fav
1.50pm BetVictor Handicap Chase
Doitforthevillage (The Rockbourne Partnership) Paul Henderson/Paddy Brennan 13/2
2.25pm Steel Plate And Sections Novices' Chase
Finian's Oscar (Ann & Alan Potts Limited) Colin Tizzard/Bryan Cooper 10/11 Fav
3.00pm Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
Kingswell Theatre (John Murray) Michael Scudamore/Tom Scudamore 14/1
3.35pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2)
On The Blind Side (Alan Spence) Nicky Henderson/ Nico de Boinville 9/2
BetVictor Gold Cup Day - Saturday, November 18
12.40pm JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2)
Apple's Shakira (J P McManus) Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty Evens Fav
1.15pm mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase
Black Corton (The Brooks, Stewart Families & Jeremy Kyle) Paul Nicholls/Bryony Frost 4/1
1.50pm BetVictor.com Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Perfect Candidate (ISL Recruitment) Fergal O'Brien/Paddy Brennan 7/1
2.25pm BetVictor Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
Splash Of Ginge (J D Neild) Nigel Twiston-Davies/ Tom Bellamy 25/1
3.00pm Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race)
Thomas Campbell (Richard & Lizzie Kelvin Hughes) Nicky Henderson/ James Bowen 13/8 Fav
3.30pm Martin & Co Jewellers Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
Coole Cody (Wayne Clifford) Michael Blake/ Brendan Powell 25/1
4.00pm Experience The Theatre At The Festival Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Listed Race)
Posh Trish (Highclere Thoroughbred Racing - Posh Trish) Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden 9/4 Fav