Tag Archive for: Bary Connell

Good Land makes no mistake for O’Connell at Leopardstown

Good Land got punters at the Dublin Racing Festival off to a flying start when justifying favouritism in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors “50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff” Novice Hurdle.

Barry Connell’s seven-year-old suffered a mishap on his hurdling debut when unseating Michael O’Sullivan at the first obstacle but the pair soon made amends at the big Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

Connell and O’Sullivan had broken their Grade One ducks with Marine Nationale in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse and with that monkey off their backs headed into the two-mile-six-furlong contest full of confidence.

Sent off the 3-1 favourite on his return to the Dublin track, the only doubt his backers will have had was if Good Land had done too much in the early stages of the race, as it was clear the pace-setting Weveallbeencaught – a rare raider from Britain at this fixture – was not going fast enough for him.

Sent to the front just before the turn for home, he had Sandor Clegane to see off and when he cried enough Absolute Notions began to close, but there was a length and a half between them at the line.

O’Sullivan, unable to claim his 5lb as the race was a Grade One, punched the air in delight and Betfair cut him to 5-1 from 10s for the Ballymore at Cheltenham.

“We were expecting that. He was a course and distance winner at Christmas and never came out of a hack canter,” said Connell.

Good Land with winning connections
Good Land with winning connections (Gary Carson/PA)

“He hasn’t missed a beat since then and we were very confident today. He’s a quick horse and we didn’t think he’d mind the ground.

“We only gave him one entry at Cheltenham in the Ballymore because we have the other horse for the Supreme (Marine Nationale).

“It couldn’t have gone better, he was maybe a fraction keen over the first couple but then he got a lovely lead off Nigel’s (Twiston-Davies) horse (Weveallbeencaught).

“He never missed a beat jumping, he got a lovely blow into him turning in. He hit the front probably plenty early and he was idling in front.

“I think we are still only scratching the surface with this guy. The big plus with him is that he’s seven years of age.

“We bought him as a four-year-old from one of the point-to-point guys and gave him a run in a bumper. Then he had a few issues.”

He went on: “It’s a big advantage for these horses to have that age on their side. He’s bombproof and you could see him walking around beforehand like he was at a kid’s gymkhana.

“Marine is the same, the two of them are brilliant. We are a small operation, we have 25 horses, and we’ve had two entries in Grade Ones this season and won them both.

“He’s not slow, I won the Albert Bartlett before with Martello Tower and it is quite hard on novices. I prefer the Ballymore, he could drop back to the Supreme if something happens to the other guy but I would need to supplement him.”

On O’Sullivan he added: “He’s a find, he’s ice cool and a brilliant horseman. He rides all of ours and I’m delighted. It doesn’t matter if he claims or not.

“The good thing is that he’s 22, he’s not 16 or 17. He’s been champion point-to-point rider and he’s got his college degree now. He has maturity on his side which is a big help.”

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