Konitho joins O'Brien's Triumph Hurdle team with Naas success

French import makes taking start

  • Sunday 27 January
  • News
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Joseph O’Brien saddled his second smart juvenile to victory in the space of 48 hours as Konitho ran out a ready winner of the BetVictor Maiden Hurdle at Naas.

Making his Irish debut having run in a French Grade Three on his last outing, he travelled supremely well throughout for JJ Slevin.

Slevin made sure he grabbed the rail running to the last, forcing Paul Townend to switch on the favourite Runrized, and Konitho (8-1) breezed clear to win by five lengths from the staying-on Lethal Steps.

O’Brien said: “He was working well at home, but it was a bit of a surprise that he won like that. JJ said he jumped fantastic and he felt comfortable all the way. He’s a fine, big horse and his three runs in France were a big help today.

“It’s early days, but he’ll have to have an entry in the Triumph.

“Leopardstown is only next week so will come too soon for him I think.”

Regarding Saturday’s Cheltenham winner Fakir D’Oudairies, O’Brien said: “You couldn’t but be impressed with him, he was really impressive and jumped very well.

“JJ said he got to the front much earlier than planned, but he was going so easily. Obviously he’ll head back to Cheltenham now.

“He actually ran over fences in France, which has obviously stood him in good stead.

“We’ll run as many as we can at Leopardstown, and there is also a graded race at Fairyhouse, so we’ll see how things are after that.”

Noel Meade’s Dream Conti broke his duck over obstacles in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.

The 5-4 favourite was ridden patiently by Sean Flanagan before settling the matter after the last to beat Envol Pierji by a length and three-quarters.

“I thought he was my best chance of a winner at Leopardstown at Christmas and I think we over-played him a bit. We let him roll a bit too strong, I know today’s race was easier,” said Meade.

“He’s a nice horse and will be a lovely chaser next year.”

Jockey Sean O’Keeffe missed a winner when taken to hospital with a suspected broken collar bone from a fall off Gracious Gamble in the race won by Dream Conti.

He had been due to ride Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition in the closing bumper, but instead the ride was taken by Max Browne, 19, for whom it was a first ever winner.

Nolan said of his winner: “His mother Aura About You was the very same in that she would never show you much at home, but she won at 25-1 in a maiden hurdle at Navan.

“I loved the way he galloped through the line there today.

“It was unfortunate for Sean that he missed the winner. I never met the lad who rode him before today.”

Nolan suffered bad luck earlier on the card when Discorama crashed out at the last when in contention in the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase won by Ballyward.

He added: “It makes up a bit for the other fella (Discorama) falling. He seems to be fine. I let him cool off for a while and he seems to be perfect.

“He was running a big race and was going to put it up to them.”

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