Tag Archive for: Springwell Bay

Relkeel challenge on the cards for Springwell Bay

Springwell Bay could take a shot at the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day following his taking victory at the track last month.

Jonjo O’Neill’s six-year-old was a progressive performer over timber last term, winning on three occasions before finishing his campaign in Grade One company at Aintree.

He made his first outing in the handicap ranks on his return to action at the November Meeting, but having obliged favourite backers with a good deal up his sleeve, could be set for an immediate return to a higher calibre of contest.

“He might go to the Relkeel,” said O’Neill.

“He’s in good form at home and ran a nice race there at Cheltenham last time, so hopefully he can improve on that.

“He has had plenty of problems, so you are always just biting your lip a little bit with him. But he has the ability if everything goes according to plan for him, so fingers crossed.”

The Springwell Bay team after winning at Cheltenham
The Springwell Bay team after winning at Cheltenham (Nigel French/PA)

The Jackdaws Castle handler has always held the Gay Smith-owned gelding in high regard and believes the Prestbury Park Grade Two would give a good indication as to Springwell Bay’s credentials in deeper waters.

When asked about him developing into a Graded-level operator, O’Neill added: “That’s what you would hope for and the Relkeel would probably tell you a lot, so that would be one of his options, anyway.”

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Bay back on form with Ascot verdict

Springwell Bay ran out an easy winner of the Ascot Racecourse Supports Schools Poetry Competition Novices’ Hurdle to get his career back on the right track.

Second in the prestigious Goffs Land Rover Bumper at the Punchestown Festival in 2021, he was subsequently bought for €155,000.

A winner on his first two outings for Jonjo O’Neill, he was beaten into third at Cheltenham in November by John McConnell’s Fennor Cross but looked a different proposition stepped up in trip.

He travelled noticeably strongly in the hands of O’Neill jnr and loomed upsides the favourite Attacca before bursting clear to win by nine lengths.

The trainer said of the 3-1 winner: “He’s been a a little bit difficult, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you’ve got patient owners you can take your time.

“He won’t be going to Cheltenham this year. We’ll make sure what he’s like when he gets back, he needs another run. We don’t know what we’ve got yet but we’re hoping he’s nice. He has had little issues, though.

“We’ve always thought he was a nice horse but he hasn’t matured. We fancied him at Cheltenham, but he checked out going to the second last and we were disappointed.

“That’s a big step in the right direction and the extra distance really helped.”

Irish Hill pings the last under Harry Cobden
Irish Hill pings the last under Harry Cobden (Steven Paston/PA)

The Cheltenham Festival could come into the equation for Irish Hill, though, after he justified 100-30 favouritism in the Ascot Racecourse Supports Box4Kids Handicap Hurdle.

Partneredy by Harry Cobden, already on the scoresheet with Oscar Elite in the Reynoldstown, Irish Hill sneaked through on the inside to hit the front two from home and was always doing enough to win by a length and three-quarters from Zoffany Bay, having his first run for 700 days.

Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said: “He could go in either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe.

“I thought he won tidily and I’m not sure he was doing a whole lot in front. The third horse (Samarrive) ran a super race too.”

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