HORSE RACING - Iron Bridge set to test Festival credentials at Warwick - The Leamington Observer

HORSE RACING - Iron Bridge set to test Festival credentials at Warwick

Leamington Editorial 23rd Feb, 2023 Updated: 24th Feb, 2023   0

GRADE One winning rider Jonjo O’Neill Jr insists Iron Bridge must pass what he has described as his ‘hardest run’ at Warwick tomorrow (Friday, February 24) if he is to stand a chance of fulfilling one of the four entries he holds at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.

With two victories over fences to his name already this season the lightly-raced seven year old, who is trained by O’Neill’s father Jonjo O’Neill, will attempt to add to that tally in the feature Feldon Dunsmore Budbrooke Handicap Chase.

After making a winning start over larger obstacles at Carlisle in October, the gelded son of Milan was then comprehensively held at Chepstow before getting the better of his sole rival in a match race at Haydock Park last time out.

O’Neill said: “He has been pretty good over fences so far, though the last day at Haydock he just cantered around.

“I would have preferred it if the race was over three miles but he did win over two and a half miles at Carlisle first time out this season.

“This looks like being his hardest run but he deserves to take his chance in the race. I was very impressed with his run at Carlisle and he would need to be running to that level of form here if he is to have a genuine chance of winning.

“Hopefully the ground will come up on the soft side as that is what he wants.”

Unlike many of his rivals Iron Bridge only had two starts over hurdles before being switched to fences, but a limited time over smaller obstacles was always going to be the plan according to O’Neill.

He added: “He was only going to have one season over hurdles as he was built like a chaser.

“He came across from Ireland as an older horse and he won on his first start over hurdles at Ffos Las before he got a setback and we only just managed to get him out again at the back end of that season at Worcester.

“It probably did him no harm having just the two starts over hurdles.”

Iron Bridge holds entries in the Ultima Handicap Chase, National Hunt Chase, Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at The Festival.

However, O’Neill is unsure as to which, if any, entry he will end up taking following the outcome of his next assignment.

He said: “He is probably more of a horse for Cheltenham next season to be honest. He has really only had two runs over fences and he might not be experienced enough for Cheltenham.

“I think Friday will tell us a lot more and where we head for the rest of the season.”


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