Dual Festival winner Bob Olinger (6-4 Favourite) recorded his third success at Cheltenham when coming home the facile winner of the Grade Two Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle on New Year's Day.
Successful in the 2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and 2022 Turners Novices’ Chase, the now nine-year-old was settled in last of the four runners by jockey Rachael Blackmore before the duo began to make smooth headway on the turn for home in today’s extended two and a half mile contest.
Taking the lead approaching the last, the Robcour-owned gelding settled the race in a matter of strides as he went on to prevail by a comfortable seven lengths from last year’s winner Marie’s Rock.
Robbie Power, race planner for Henry de Bromhead said: “You have to be pleased with that. We were impressed with him at Navan and we just hoped he would back that up.
“His homework had been very good. It is always great to see him back to his best. He didn’t really take to chasing and a decision was made at the start of the season to stick to hurdles to see if we could get him back to his best, and a lot of work has gone into him from a lot of different people. It is great to get him back. That performance was impressive.
“It was always going to be a tactical race and it is always better if you can get to the stands rail on the better ground with the rail to help as it is a huge advantage.
“Rachael was keen she was going to get it, and no one was going to stop her. She had the horse underneath her to get the gap, and you have to have the horse and she had it all times.
“He came to my place last February, and he was there until October. He just lost his way over fences, and he lost his confidence. There has been a lot of work gone in from vets and physiotherapists doing different things. We have him back now hopefully.
“We needed to get his confidence back and let him believe he is good again and he showed today he does think he is good again.
“That was a very good performance as he has beaten Marie’s Rock by seven lengths giving her seven pounds.
“He will have an entry in the Champion Hurdle, but taking on Constitution Hill is unlikely. Aintree would look like his big target. We have Teahupoo for the Stayers’ Hurdle so Aintree would be his target.”
Rachael Blackmore told ITV Racing: “He never excelled as we thought he would over fences so going back over hurdles seems to be bringing out the best in him.
“It’s great to see him back and finishing so well as he is always a horse we thought so much of. To get him to win like that was brilliant.
“He’s such a talented horse and it’s great to have him back.”
Winning owner Brian Acheson said: “Bob is the third child. There is Courtney, Rob and Bob. The last day at Navan I watched it on my own and shed a tear. When you see a horse that for 18 months was hurt and had a muscular issue that we only found in January, but he was still trying to give his all in every race it is tough. You could see in his swagger that he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t giving you it all. We went away and found the issue. He went back with Robbie Power who did dressage and everything with him and got him back. It was then all about his confidence.
The last time he was here in the Turners (Novices’ Chase) against Galopin (Des Champs) he was hurt and you were hoping Rachael would just hang on to him and hope the whole thing didn’t get to him, but it is wonderful to see him back.
“We could have gone to Leopardstown, but we said no let’s come here to Cheltenham as this is the be all and end all. I suppose the race so we might as well put him in it and give it a bit of profile. This is the second race I’ve sponsored this season. I sponsored the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle, and I won that as well. My secret to Gerri Colombe is I might have to now sponsor the Gold Cup.”