Jamie Osborne is looking forward to sending another strong team across the Irish Sea for the popular annual meeting at Laytown on Thursday.
The once-a-year fixture, which takes place on the east coast around 30 miles north of Dublin, is the only race meeting run on a beach under the Rules of Racing in Ireland and Britain.
There are no permanent facilities in place at Laytown, with the course itself quickly set up as the tide recedes on the morning of raceday and temporary marquees used for the weighing room, bars and restaurants.
Thursday’s six-race card consists of two races over six furlongs and four over seven furlongs. In the past races took place over distances of up to two miles around a bend, but an incident in 1994 led to major changes including reduced race distances and field sizes.
The meeting is also confined to more experienced riders and headgear is forbidden for horses.
Osborne has enjoyed a winner in each of the last two years at Laytown, with Room Key striking gold in 2016 and Monteverdi last year, both in the concluding race of the day.
The Lambourn-based trainer saddled six runners two years ago and seven runners last season and this year runs eight horses in the first five races, with each carrying the colours of Melbourne 10 Racing.
Osborne said: “I have the unenviable task of entertaining nine of my so-called friends who, along with myself, make up the Melbourne 10 and this is our annual trip of stupidity!
“It’s all about having as much fun as we can. A couple of years ago I told them about this once-a-year meeting on the beach just north of Dublin and they simply said ‘we’re going’!
“This is our third year trying and I’d like to think we’re learnt plenty about it. In the last two years our strike-rate hasn’t been great and the lads haven’t been shy in letting me know about it, so I’ve tried my best to make sure we’re a bit stronger this year.
“If we have to wait until the last race again, then we’re in trouble!”
As well as the Osborne-trained octet, the syndicate has leased the Johnny Murtagh-trained Prosecution and Tom McCourt’s course winner My Good Brother for the day to take their formidable team to 10.
Assessing their chances, Osborne said: “We have Rippling Waters and Prosecution running for us in the opening maiden and I think the two of them give us a pretty strong hand. I don’t mind which one wins really, but obviously I’d narrowly prefer Rippling Waters.
“I think we’re pretty strong in the claimer as well with Kody Ridge and Pulsating, then we have Acrux and Florencio in the qualified riders handicap. I’d probably favour Florencio as he is rated 89 on the all-weather and runs off 75, so if he runs up to his best, you’d have to think he’ll be hard to beat.”
He continued: “We rely on Waqaas in the other qualified riders race and on ratings he looks a certainty. He is our banker, but I would imagine he will priced up accordingly.
“We run Letmestopyouthere and Monumental Man in the penultimate race. We’ve leased Letmestopyouthere from Michael Bell, who has assured us he’s the perfect horse to run on the beach, but how he knows that I’m not sure. Monumental Man is a consistent old horse and we bought him out of a seller last week.
“In the very last race Tom McCourt has kindly leased us My Good Brother, who won here two years ago and was second last year. I’m guessing he’ll probably be favourite as well.
“Whatever happens the lads will enjoy their day and have a good few pints of Guinness. If we don’t have any winners I’ll be their cannon fodder and if we have a few winners, I’m sure they’ll say it was their plan!”