It's an exciting day for the yard tomorrow with six runners at Cheltenham.

Everything is going well with Edwulf and we are very excited about running him in the Gold Cup on Friday.


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Joseph O’Brien’s rise up the training ranks in less than two years with a license has been quite remarkable to witness. Having already sent out the winner of the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Melbourne Cup on the Flat, he secured his first two Grade 1 victories over jumps at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February with the highlight being the emotional victory of Edwulf in the Irish Gold Cup.

In his latest column, Joseph gives us an update on all of his entries for the four days of Cheltenham.



A 140-rated hurdler, he has won two of his four starts over hurdles including a Grade 3 novice hurdle at Naas.

“He will run in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on Friday and it looks like JJ Slevin will ride him. I don’t really have an excuse for his last run. We expected him to run a lot better than that and he was just disappointing. If the ground turns up to be decent, it will be a bit of an unknown for him. All of his runs so far have been on testing ground, so we’ll have to wait and see how he handles it. It’s obviously a very competitive race, but he’s in good form and will hopefully run well.”



A 164-rated chaser, he came back from a near-death experience at last year’s Cheltenham Festival to secure a dramatic victory in the Irish Gold Cup at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

“Everything has gone smoothly with him since Leopardstown and he will run in the Gold Cup on Friday. Derek O’Connor has a great association with him and it’s great that he’ll be able to continue that partnership. We think he stays well and the faster the early pace, the more it will suit him. It’s a wide-open and competitive race, but I think he has a good each-way chance.”



A 120-rated hurdler, she has won twice over hurdles and most recently finish third in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“The hope is to run her in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Wednesday, but she needs a few to come out if she is to get a run. She might not have too much up her sleeve in terms of her handicap mark, but she’d appreciate a return to better ground and will enjoy the test of stamina, so we’d look forward to seeing how she runs if she gets in. We haven’t thought too much about who will ride her yet, we’ll just see if she gets a run first.”



A 145-rated hurdler, he won the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016, but has been well below his best this season.

“He’ll run in the County Hurdle on Friday. He has been struggling on testing ground all season and it has been hard to take too much encouragement from his runs. He ran well in this race on good ground last year, so hopefully the ground will dry out for him, but the handicapper has been slow to drop him and he probably needs a bit more help in that regard before he gets really competitive again. There won’t be a decision made on his rider until after declarations.”



A 140-rated hurdler, he won his first three starts over hurdles during the summer, but has disappointed on softer ground since then.

“The plan is to run him in the County Hurdle on Friday. This will be his first run in handicap and is still relatively inexperienced, so it could be tough for him. I thought he needed the run after a break when he was below form in the Royal Bond, but he’s been a bit disappointing the last twice and was probably struggling on the soft ground more than anything. The better the ground, the better his chance will be. His rider will be decided after declarations.”



A 129-rated hurdler, he has progressed steadily over hurdles this season, most recently running below form in the Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“He’s a very likeable and consistent horse and we gave him a little break after his last run with a view to bringing him to Cheltenham fresh, but it looks like he might struggle to get a run. We have him entered in the County Hurdle, the Martin Pipe and the Coral Cup and he is versatile enough with regard to trip and ground that we would be happy to run in any of them, but getting in will be his main issue.”



The wide-margin winner of a bumper at Thurles in December, he subsequently finished second to Blackbow in a Grade 2 bumper at Leopardstown in February.

“He’ll run in the Champion Bumper on Wednesday. It looks a very competitive race and I’m hearing some very bullish reports about a few of the leading contenders. All of his runs have been on testing ground so far and while I think he’d handle a sounder surface, I wouldn’t be at all upset if it was soft. It might be tough for him to reverse form with Blackbow if they both get a clean run though the race, but I’d definitely be hopeful we can get closer to him. At the end of the day, an awful lot of this race comes down to what gets a good run on the day and all we can do is hope that Rhinestone gets one. I think he is streetwise enough for a race like this. He will have learned a lot from his last run and should be all the better for it. There hasn’t been a final decision made on his rider yet.”



A 146-rated hurdler, he produced a career-best effort when winning the Galway Hurdle in July, but has been below that form since.

“He will run in the County Hurdle. He went up plenty for winning the Galway Hurdle and has just struggled since then. He seems in good form at home and maybe a bit a better ground will help him, but there was plenty of ease in it when he won at Galway and he won a good handicap on soft ground on the Flat last year, so I might be grasping at straws with that hope. We’ll get him there in the best form we can and hopefully he’ll bounce back to form. His rider will be decided after declarations.”



A 142-rated hurdler, he broke his maiden over hurdles in the Grade 1 Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“It looks as though he’ll be supplemented for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Friday as that looks a more suitable and winnable option for him than the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on Wednesday. I think the trip will be fine for him and the better the ground, the better his chance. He obviously took a very big step forward in form terms last time and I’d be hopeful that he could find more improvement if he gets the trip as well as we hope he will. JJ Slevin is likely to keep the ride on him.”



A 136-rated hurdler, he has won two of his three starts over hurdles, most recently finishing second to Duca De Thaix in a Grade 3 novice hurdle at Limerick’s Christmas meeting.

“The plan is to run him in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday. He looks up against it based on what he’s shown so far, but I do think that less testing ground will definitely suit him, as will a stronger pace in front of him. It was always the plan to freshen him up after he ran at Christmas with a view to running at Cheltenham. He has been leased to the Melbourne 10 for the day and they’ll have a good day out with him regardless, but I’d be hopeful he will represent them well in the race. JJ Slevin is likely to ride him.”


I’m sure there were plenty of trainers that had it much tougher than us around the country, but it was a definitely a testing week for the team here.

The road leading up to our yard is quite steep and narrow, so once the big snow drifts settled on it, access was a problem. What we ended up doing was that the staff parked down in Owning village and we ferried them up and down to the yard with a tractor and trailer.

Matchbook, Piltown, County Kilkenny 5/3/2018
Joseph O’Brien
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Fair play to all the team here, as everyone that had any prospects of making it safely into work, made a big effort to do so and thanks to that we had very close to a full squad every day.

The weather that we had last week creates all sorts of issues within a racing yard.

Our water pipes froze, so a lot of time was spent hauling buckets of water around to the horses to make sure they had enough at all times. I don’t think we’ll ever take automatic water troughs for granted again!

There was a lot of snow to be cleared and surfaces to be made safe just so that the horses could be taken out of their boxes. The gallop was also a big concern and we had a rotating crew of people manning the tractor and harrow all night every night to try and keep it useable.

Matchbook, Piltown, County Kilkenny 5/3/2018
Joseph O’Brien
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

When all was said and done, we managed to get all the horses out onto the gallop every day and were able to maintain their routines as best we could.

I know it has almost become a cliché for trainers to deflect praise from themselves onto their staff, but there couldn’t be better examples of the importance of team efforts within racing yards than those that kept the show on the road all over the country last week.

It really was a herculean effort from all the staff here and thanks to them, the horses we are hoping to run at Cheltenham didn’t have their routines interrupted too much.

Matchbook, Piltown, County Kilkenny 5/3/2018
Joseph O’Brien
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

We can’t be sure how many runners we’ll have at Cheltenham yet as a few of them will be touch-and-go to get into the handicaps, but the number is likely to be between six and 10. Plans are in the process of being finalised at the moment and the first of them are likely to leave the yard here on Sunday.

It’s a very exciting time for all of us here. All we can aim to do is get them down to the starts of their races in the best shape we can and after that, it will just be a case of hoping for the best.


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Horse racing betting is about to get even better at Matchbook with the news that two of the very brightest young stars in the sport in Joseph O’Brien and Bryony Frost are joining the Matchbook stable as our latest horse racing ambassadors. 

The hottest names in racing are linking up with racing’s hottest exchange to give you exclusive insights throughout the year to help you bet smarter.

Still just 24 years of age, O’Brien has already won the Derby twice as a jockey as well as the Irish Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup as a trainer among a host of other achievements. He’s the trainer everyone wants to hear from and he will be giving you exclusive advice, insights and commentary only here at the home of 0% commission where winners are always welcome.

Even younger at just 22, Bryony Frost has been a revelation in her first professional season in National Hunt racing. In December, she became only the second female jockey to win a Grade 1 aboard the exciting novice chaser Black Corton and the pair will team up at this year’s Cheltenham Festival in the RSA Chase. With her talent in the saddle being complimented by her infectious enthusiasm for the sport, there couldn’t be a better representative for Matchbook racing.

“Becoming part of the Matchbook team with Joseph is incredibly exciting. We’re the next generation in the sport and the partnership feels like a perfect fit as we’re all in the early stages of our racing careers! I’m looking forward to seeing how we all progress together,” Frost said.


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Both O’Brien and Frost are very well placed to give you the inside line on both the Flat and the jumps and you now can read and listen to their views exclusively on Matchbook. They will be sharing their extensive knowledge on Insights and the Matchbook Betting Podcast in a range of innovative content.

Joseph O’Brien said: “I am delighted to become an ambassador for Matchbook. They are a young, innovative and ambitious company who I am very much looking forward to being involved with going forward.”

O’Brien will be providing in-depth previews on the major racing festivals starting with Cheltenham and will be making regular appearances on the Matchbook Betting Podcast.

Matchbook will also feature a range of exclusive content from Frost as she continues to dazzle the racing world. Both her and O’Brien will appear in exclusive video content later this year as Matchbook looks to take you as close to the action as possible.


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Having surged into the top 10 trainers on the Flat in Ireland in his first full campaign in 2017, O’Brien currently sits in third position in the National Hunt trainer’s championship in what is his first full season in that sphere. For her part, Frost has gone from a virtual unknown to Grade 1 winner in just a year and will be one of the most closely-watched jockeys at Cheltenham.

Just as Matchbook is the next generation of betting exchange, these two individuals are the next generation of racing. As is the case with Matchbook, you sense from both of these high achievers that the best is yet to come from them. So whatever you do, don’t miss the chance to hear, read and learn from these two stars who are setting the horse racing world on fire.