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2013 Champion Bumper - Joseph O'Brien relishing first Cheltenham Festival ride

Jon Wilde in Wed. 15th March 12 Mar 2013
Jockey Joseph O'Brien (left) with his father Aidan O'Brien (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Epsom Derby-winning jockey Joseph O'Brien is relishing his first visit to the Cheltenham Festival to ride Shield for his father Aidan in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Wednesday.

Crowned champion jockey on the Flat in Ireland last year, the 19-year-old successfully applied to the Irish Turf Club for a jumps licence to allow him to ride at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.

O'Brien won the 2,000 Guineas and the English and Irish Derbies on Camelot last year and has also enjoyed success aboard St Nicholas Abbey at the Breeders’ Cup.

While the young jockey has yet to experience the world’s most prestigious jumps meeting, his father is no stranger to it with his winners including triple Champion Hurdle hero Istabraq.

Shield got off the mark at Leopardstown just a fortnight after finishing fourth on his debut at Punchestown and those performances were just enough to book him a place in the field.

“He just got in the race at the bottom,” said O’Brien junior. “First time out he got tired in very bad ground at Punchestown and we had to run him quite quickly to qualify for Cheltenham in case he ended up going there.

“He won nicely at Leopardstown and hopefully he will have come on for the run.

“I've never actually been to Cheltenham before. It can be a rough race but I'm looking forward to something different.”

Another champion jockey on the Flat looking to turn over the jumps boys is Britain's number one, Richard Hughes.

He has ridden at the Cheltenham Festival several times before without success and hopes to break his duck on two-time winner Sgt Reckless for Mick Channon.

“I hope I've a good chance,” said Hughes. “I rode him work and I liked him. He certainly goes there with a chance. But it's a rough race and you need luck in running.”


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2013 Champion Bumper - Joseph O'Brien relishing first Cheltenham Festival ride

Epsom Derby-winning jockey Joseph O'Brien is relishing his first visit to the Cheltenham Festival to ride Shield for his father Aidan in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper on Wednesday.

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