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Fergal O’Brien comments on Cheltenham Festival duo; expect big things

It’s almost time for one of the greatest spectacles in the United Kingdom’s horse racing calendar, Cheltenham Festival 2019 is just days away and trainer Fergal O’Brien has opened up about the chances of two of his primed novices.

Jarveys Plate tasted success in a trial for Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle on New Year’s Day, which will put him in an excellent position ahead of the real thing on day two of the festival. Elsewhere, Aye Aye Charlie will be aiming to continue his strong start to his novices’ career, as he finished a respectable sixth in the Cleeve Hurdle in late January.

What O’Brien had to say

“I think the way the race will be run will suit Jarveys Plate and people tell me the day he won there he clocked a very good time,” said O’Brien.

“We’re hanging on to that for a little bit of hope and hopefully he can reproduce that in the Ballymore.

“I just feel the fast pace of the Ballymore will suit his style of running rather than the Albert Bartlett. The Albert Bartlett can be quite a gruelling race.

“I’ve got Aye Aye Charlie for the Albert Bartlett in any case and he’s going in under the radar.

“He finished sixth in the Cleeve and that was a cracking run for a novice, it’s been completely overlooked.

“People will look and see he finished sixth last time out and maybe not realise what sort of company he was in – it was a cracking run and we were delighted so hopefully he’ll run well.”

Fergal O’Brien

How will they actually fare?

Jarveys Plate is currently priced at 20/1 to win the Ballymore Hurdle, and that price alone should tempt anyone with an inkling that’ll he’ll be there or thereabouts. Clearly, there’s a lot of strong contention but Jarveys Plate has had a fine start to this season and he certainly has the momentum to keep that form up.

As O’Brien mentioned, Jarveys Plate ran a fine race in the test run so he is more than acquainted with the course and this can prove another massive benefit to his potential success come the festival. So watch this space.

In Aye Aye Charlie’s case, he is currently priced at 25/1 to win the Albert Bartlett on day four of the festival. The second-season novice is starting to gather a steady amount of momentum as well, and although the competition in the Bartlett is tough, Aye Aye Charlie could potentially be the surprise package.

Although he was overwhelming favourite (1/12) in the George Harrow Memorial Novices’ Hurdle in November, his win was still mightily impressive and will give punters confidence when backing him for the Bartlett.

Whatever happens with Jarveys Plate and Aye Aye Charlie at the festival, O’Brien can be confident both horses will be in the best possible condition to give it their absolute maximum come race day. The Irish trainer might not have entries for the big one, but you can check out the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup prices right now.