TERENCE O’Brien is gearing Articulum up for a tilt at this summer’s edition of thetote.com Galway Plate.
The Carrigtwohill trainer is relieved that Irish racing’s return is imminent, and he is readying his stable star for the two-mile, six showpiece, which is scheduled for July 29.
Several of the local handler’s string were sent on an early summer break, following the implementation of lockdown in March, though some horses stayed in training, with a view to a summer campaign.
O’Brien’s flagbearer will be targeted at the historic Plate which is set to be run behind closed doors in just over eight weeks’ time provided that ground conditions suit.
“We had around six or seven horses that we were going to campaign for the summer anyway.
“The fact that Galway is going ahead now, we are probably going to bring back another two or three.
“I think I’m going to chance Articulum in the Galway Plate if the ground is any way fair. He’s 10 now and is getting on a small bit.
“The ground would often come up reasonably okay and safe in Galway. We’ll have a punt off it and see what happens.”
Articulum has long been highly-regarded. The son of Definite Article has won five races, and he finished a memorable third in the 2019 Arkle Novices’ Chase, at Cheltenham.
He failed to get his head in front last term, though he did shape well during the campaign and that’s despite falling on three outings.
He was last seen posting an encouraging effort, when filling the runner-up berth in a grade three contest, at Naas.
“I don’t know what happened last season. He was very unlucky a few times. He failed to complete three days in a row. It’s hard to keep horses peaking; we had to try and keep him on the boil a long time.
“It was tough enough going,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien’s most-recent racecourse runner was a winning one, as he saddled Ask Heather to win a handicap chase, at Clonmel, on what proved to be the final day of last season, on March 24.
He was enjoying arguably the best season of his career having claimed a record haul of over €215,000 in prizemoney before racing was brought to a halt.
Given the uncertainty of the last two months, the trainer is understandably pleased that the sport is set to resume shortly, on June 8.
“It is a relief. When you are at the mercy of the gods, when it is out of your control, it’s a bit disconcerting.
“But, when it’s back, and things are looking fairly reasonable control-wise, you’d be fairly hopeful that things can keep going now, with a bit of luck.
“The lockdown situation hasn’t really been that dramatic for us at the yard yet. It’s hard to know where the dice is going to fall.
“Things are still up in the air. We had a good few four-year-olds we were hoping to run, that didn’t run. We were hoping to sell a few, and that is the biggest challenge going forward.
“To try and restock with three-year-olds is going to be tough. I’m lucky that I have the training and I have good owners as well,” he said.
The Galway festival- winning handler is set to launch a racing club soon, which will be an exciting new initiative for all involved at the Woodstock yard.
Two horses at the east Cork stables will sport the colours of the newly-formed club.
It will provide an ideal opportunity for people looking to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership at an affordable cost.
“We have a smashing six-year-old Mahler horse and a four-year-old Leading Light that will run for the racing club.
“The four-year-old is unraced, but he is showing a little bit at home. The other horse ran in a point-to-point and finished third, just beaten a few lengths. He’s not a bad horse.
“We are hoping to get people interested in the racing club. We never did a racing club before, but we are going to see how it will work,” O’Brien said.