SEAN O’BRIEN will have learned plenty about his stable flagbearer, R’evelyn Pleasure, over the past season.
The Kilworth trainer is now gearing his charge towards an autumn return when jump racing will be (hopefully) back on track.
O’Brien’s horses are out at grass, on an end-of-season break, at Killaly stables.
But most of his string look set to return to training earlier than usual, with O’Brien nominating September as a realistic target for their racecourse reappearances.
Among his current crop is R’evelyn Pleasure, who was a two-time winner over fences, the season before last, and also brought connections to several major spring festivals.
The son of Getaway made an encouraging comeback run at Punchestown when fourth in a hurdles contest on New Year’s Eve.
He then finished down the field in the valuable Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase and was later reverted to hurdles, but failed to spark.
O’Brien believes this past season was a learning process — for both horse and trainer.
The local handler is hopeful that the eight-year-old gelding can fire again next term.
‘‘He started off great in Punchestown. Every move I made after that was the wrong move.
“I made the mistake of running him in real bad ground. He never acted on it and he jumped terribly. We just need to get his jumping back together, as it fell apart when I ran him in the Dan Moore.
“We tried to go back over hurdles and exploit his mark (which is around a stone lower than his chase rating), but unfortunately the ground didn’t suit. He’s in great order now and he’s been left off.
“I’m going to get him back in early.
“That’s the plan, to get him out on a bit of nice ground,’’ O’Brien said.
The stable was unfortunate not to have a winner in March, not long before racing was forced to a close.
Johnny Little Legs, sporting the same colours as R’evelyn Pleasure, was a close second at Thurles, beaten by just a short head, on his penultimate start, over two miles.
The Getaway gelding was last seen finishing ninth back at the same venue.
O’Brien reckons that he’s got more of a handle on getting the best out of the five-year-old.
‘‘He ran a cracker in Thurles over two miles. The horse that beat him (Chalky White) went on to run a cracker in Wexford.
“The form is solid, but I made the mistake of running him back a bit soon, over a longer trip.
“He just didn’t get home over two seven. He travels well, so I should have just stuck to two. But we live and learn.
“A few of my horses had a bug as well. It’s been one of those years. Realistically, if we have jump racing by Listowel (in September), I think we’ll be going well.
“The horses have been left off here on the farm for their summer holidays. They’ll probably end up coming back in earlier, because you could have the prospect of having them ready to run around September or October, rather than November or December,’’ he said.
O’Brien is adamant that, while his yard has had to adapt to the unprecedented situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak, he has not been as badly affected as others.
‘‘I’m missing out on maybe two or three months of the year. With regards to horses in training, within a few days of when it (news of the lockdown) broke, I pulled the plug on everything here at the yard.
“It’s a small yard and we don’t have the overheads of the bigger yards. We’ll take our beating. I did have to let two lads go and they’ve gone breaking a few horses of their own now.
“Once I get a few breakers in, I’ll have them back in. It’s a real tough one for the flat lads, though. That’s where it’s going to really hit.
“It’s easier for me, as if we don’t sell a horse on as a foal or yearling, we can let them go until they are three or four, whereas the flat lads have to get a quick return on the breeze-ups,’’ O’Brien said.