TERENCE O’Brien had stable star Articulum primed to produce an excellent effort, last weekend, when the gelding placed third, on what was his first outing in almost 300 days.
O’Brien’s charge had suffered a number of injury setbacks, earlier this year. But he returned to make the frame, when lugging top-weight, in last Saturday’s Foxrock Handicap Chase.
It was a fine training performance from the Carrigtwohill handler, who brought his 10-year-old flagbearer back to peak form, after his spell on the side-lines. Considering his injury problems, the fact that he had to carry 11st 10lbs in a highly-competitive race and on what was his reappearance; Articulum ran a stormer.
The son of Definite Article delighted connections with his latest placed-effort, when he chased home Crossed My Mind and Fairly Legal, in Navan’s €40,000 contest.
‘‘I was delighted. It’s probably as good as he’s ever run really. He got another pound for the run, so that’s probably a career-high rating (149). In fairness, you can’t really ask him for much more than that, at 10 years of age, to be running up to as good as he ever did before. We had a lot of setbacks with him.
"I’m not sure what went wrong. We had to cauterize his palate again and he was making a little noise. He was nearly worse when he came back. But he just turned around with the last month or five weeks.
"His form just started to improve. We are more than delighted to see him back," O’Brien said.
The trainer could next send the five-time winner to Limerick, for a crack at one of their feature races, over Christmas.
‘‘I’m hoping there might be a bit more improvement in him, He’ll probably go to Limerick at Christmas. There’s the Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Chase there, which is a two-mile-and-three handicap. He fell in it last year actually. I’d say that’s where we will go," he said.
The yard is off the mark for the current season, having produced winners on the track and in the point-to-point fields. Anglers Crag gave the trainer his first win on the track for the season when landing a November Fairyhouse bumper, under Cork’s Darragh Allen.
It was a taking performance, from the Ballindenisk point-to-point winner, on what his rules debut.
"He won the point-to-point bumper. He’s a lovely horse. He won his point-to-point first time out and he’s after winning a bumper now. So, he’ll probably run at Christmas in a winners’ race.
"There’s a race in Leopardstown, that’s going to be hot, but any winners’ race is going to be hot. We’ll let him run in a few more bumpers and we’ll leave him for novice hurdling next season."
Paddy The Horse provided O’Brien with his opening point-to-point success of the campaign. The five-year-old Imperial Monarch gelding built on his runner-up berth at Curraghmore, by winning a Boulta maiden by 12 lengths.
The handler’s Soldier Of Destiny, his most-recent runner on the track, ran with credit on his rules debut, when fourth in a maiden hurdle, at Punchestown, in midweek. Both horses look to be promising types going forward.
The trainer’s other leading performer, Our Roxane, is set to run over the festive season. She’s being geared towards another tilt at Leopardstown’s Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, a race in which she finished second, last season. The yard is also set to unveil more point-to-pointers, over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the Terence O’Brien Racing Club was officially launched, earlier this year. Mahlers Dollar and Blaze Of Light have carried the club’s colours in recent months. The club is proving to be a success, so far.
"The Racing Club is going well. We put two horses in at reasonable value and 30 people joined. Mahlers Dollar turned out to be a great success – he ran six times and was never out of the prizemoney.
"He was just a bit unlucky. He’s not a bad horse. He’ll be a grand hurdle horse and he might run at Leopardstown over Christmas, as he doesn’t like soft ground. Blaze Of Light will be a grand horse. We’ll campaign him for next summer."