IT is nearly four years since young jockey Conor O’Farrell rode Dynaste to a breakthrough victory, and he cannot wait to be reunited with the galloping grey in tomorrow’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
“On his day, he is a class act and hopefully he can bounce back from last year and show his best,” the 26-year-old told The Yorkshire Post ahead of the West Yorkshire track’s £100,000 feature race of the year.
They are also words which apply to the jockey who hails from County Tipperary.
Although O’Farrell had an armchair ride when winning Haydock’s Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle in November 2011, it is Tom Scudamore who has ridden the David Pipe-trained horse to his subsequent successes – most notably last year’s Grade One Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
As Scudamore’s understudy, O’Farrell knows he has to wait for his chances – his high-profile success on Dynaste came in the same year that he rode Buena Vista to Cheltenham glory before winning a Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Minella All Star.
“I can’t wait. I was at Fakenham on Tuesday and Sam Twiston-Davies said I was jocked up. I had ridden the horse in the morning, but the boss, Mr Pipe, couldn’t say anything until he had spoken to the owners,” said O’Farrell, who rode just 10 winners last season.
“It’s a great opportunity and he’s in great form. He’s moving better and the girl who rides every day has never been happier.”
Unplaced on his seasonal reappearance at Auteuil, connections are hopeful Dynaste can rediscover the form of old – the grey was injured when chasing home subsequent Grand National hero Many Clouds at Cheltenham in January and there is every likelihood that tomorrow’s rematch will be a thriller with proven Grade One horses of the calibre of Menorah and Cue Card in the line-up.
As for O’Farrell, he still remembers the runaway win at Haydock with fondness.
“It’s the first time I’ve come in after a race and said ‘this is a proper horse’.” he recalled.
“He was relentless. He was travelling so well that I couldn’t deny him.
“When we turned for home, I kicked him in the belly and he picked up again. Only good horses do that.
“We have always thought a lot of him, and he justified that in the Ryanair, but he had his problems last year. Hopefully he can put up a good show.
“I’ll talk to Tom. He’s a great man to work with because he’s very helpful and very informative on horses he has ridden.
“He’s a great asset to the team and has ridden the horse in every chase race.
“The same with Mr Pipe. As long as you do your job and ride to instructions, riding for him is very easy.”
Meanwhile Mick Easterby harbours hopes of Shadows Lengthen winning successive renewals of the bet365 Handicap Chase, the day one highlight of the Charlie Hall meeting.
Ridden by Jake Greenall, who is again in the saddle, he got the better of Off The Ground by a comfortable seven lengths 12 months ago and the two horses are set to re-oppose.
David Easterby, assistant trainer to his father, said: “He has done well over the summer and we are very pleased with his preparation. He should hopefully run up to his best.”
Our Thomas, trained by Easterby senior’s nephew Tim, won at Wetherby’s season-opening meeting and steps up in class when tackling the Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle.
Owned by Trevor Hemmings, connections harbour hopes of the horse replicating stablemate Hawk High’s success in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.
And Harry Bannister, who is steeped in Yorkshire point-to-pointing, will hope to continue his rise through the professional ranks when partnering Harriet Bethell’s Nalim in the Wetherby Whaler Supporting Yorkshire Air Ambulance Handicap Chase. The rider achieved a career highlight when partnering the Warren Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi to victory at Aintree last Sunday.