Our efforts to get a last win of 2017 continue tomorrow but, after Indian Tom tonight, we may struggle. He finished out his race fine but as often happens with him he was trying to get involved from an impossible position after missing the break.   Alcatraz runs in the 1 mile apprentice race. It’s his first run for us and I’m looking forward to seeing him start. All mine improve for a run despite my best efforts and I expect him to be no different. I quite like him and even though he has a terrible win record I’m hoping he’ll be an important horse for us in 2018. He has recently been running over further, rightly or wrongly, I expect this to be his trip. Gary Halpin rides and he’s as good as you’ll get. Frank Lynch and Mick Hartnett own this guy and he’s our first runner together. Fingers crossed we can be lucky.   Beach Bar runs in the red hot 7f feature handicap later on the card. His last run was frustrating as nothing went his way after he missed the break. It emphasised how vulnerable he is in terms of run style. If he gets daylight and they put him on his head or he can go forward, rather than burning energy, then he should give his running. Whether that’s good enough against these, I don’t know. When the turf season starts he may be better trying to bully lesser rivals. Wayne rides, a great result. I ring his agent regularly looking for him and you need a fast one, or to get lucky, to get him. We’ll see.   That will complete 2017, a year to the day since our first runner and 12 wins later I couldn’t have wished for a better start. It has been a mad year but I’ll elaborate on that sometime over the Christmas break. Happy Christmas all.

We have one runner this evening. Indian Tomahawk returns to a mile after a mediocre effort over further. He wasn’t himself after his last run and had a few easy days. I’m not sure what his best trip is but his recent efforts over a mile have been excellent.

If he jumps and travels and helps Billy early then he should run well. He’s drawn in 12 but it shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance if he can break quickly. We have 2 more tomorrow and I will update on them then. There have been times during the year when everything has just flowed. Horses thriving and running out of their skin and that has waxed and waned as I’m sure it does for every yard. This is a trying period. Horrible cold weather followed by warm almost muggy weather and it’s hard to keep horses healthy and everything moving forward. It’s all downhill from here once Christmas is behind us and we can start a few new faces in the New Year. Fingers crossed this fella or the next 2 can cap a most productive 2017.

We introduce a new horse tomorrow evening. Arc Royal runs in the first, a 5 furlong sprint handicap and he carries top weight. David Haddrell sourced him at the recent horses in training sale at Newmarket and he has been syndicated through the power of Twitter. He’s owned by a fantastic group of enthusiasts and I’m optimistic he can provide them with a bit of fun. He was sourced on the basis that he should take to the all weather and hopefully that’s the case.

It’s a learning curve with him, he has lost his form and it would be nice if he could show he’s on the way back. There’s a nice sequence of races over the coming months and this is an ideal start. He’s bred to sprint and looks like a sprinter but has a long languid way of going that would suggest he’ll probably be better over further. He’s drawn 10 which is likely a negative. This race is restricted to riders that have ridden less than 10 winners since March. Emmet McNamara qualifies due, I suspect, to his Ballydoyle commitments and I’m delighted to get him.

Last week was a chastening experience. I was convinced Beach Bar would be in the shake up. He missed the break and tanked amongst horses before finding trouble twice in the straight. This game has a wonderful way of clipping one’s wings and the journey home was a quiet one Friday last. Still we’ll hit off tomorrow full of optimism and give it another go.    

My experience is trainers are notoriously bad tipsters and I fall in to that category. Today Beach Bar will test that view. Post Leopardstown I concluded that here was a horse on the way back and his run in Doncaster did nothing to dissuade me from that. I may have left him a little over fresh for Doncaster. He had an easy few days prior to the boat and ate all round him on arrival. He ran fine but may have been capable of better. Since then his routine has been good and I can see him give a good account. Killian rides and his 5lb claim helps offset the 3lbs he’s out of the handicap. He’s well drawn in 2. Of course it’s a tough contest but he’s a former borderline listed performer with 7st13lbs on his back. He’s quite a character and despises me. He adores the girls, Catherine especially. She does everything with him on the ground and I have the pleasure of riding him daily (hence the dislike). He wants to do everything at a million miles an hour and the only way we manage him is to just let him. Maybe it’s too tough, maybe he’s not going to come back to the horse he was but we can dream for another few hours yet.

Indian Tomahawk returns to Dundalk 1 week after his good 4th last week. He was heavily backed and I suspect there were a few rueing their luck including ourselves. He jumped slowly and contrived to turn a good draw into the worst possible one getting trapped wide and doing well to be beaten a length and a half. Finishing 4th makes my life awkward as it puts him back into the balloting system and means that I don’t know when he’ll get a run. Most of mine are in a good strong daily routine with no work days per se and once fit can run once the opportunity arises. Indian Tom seems to do better with a much lighter approach and it’s hard to tread the line between fit/well and stuffy/stale if you don’t know when you’ll get to run. If he can get into the first 3 then we’re back in business. He’s only our third runner in a claimer and I’m just getting my head around the importance of what the handicapper is telling us and the value of current form. I’d love to see him win but it appears a tough task. He’s well drawn and we have the best available in Colin Keane. It’s our first time getting Colin on board any of our runners. He’s had a wonderful year and while he has cemented his claims to being tops domestically it would be nice to see him becoming sought after for big race rides internationally. Pat Smullen has been that person for years and Colin should be joining him.

The whole week revolves around Friday nights for the next couple of months. Hopefully we’ll have a runner most weeks. I like Dundalk. No worrying about the ground. Everything is handy (once you get there) and if one runs bad you can just say the draw did for them or they hated the kickback or the handicapper has him! We have Indian Tomahawk running in the 65 mile handicap at 7. It’s restricted to riders that have ridden less than 10 winners since March. This allows Nathan Crosse to take over from Billy. Nathan is an excellent young rider attached to the Willie McCreery yard. He was second on Indian Tom in Bellewstown a few runs back and he knows him. He has been running well and could have been closer the last day if the winner hadn’t tightened him up a little about a furlong and a half down. To be fair the winner quickened up better before crossing him and that gear change made a big difference. It’s quite a strong race and easy to make a case for several. Our lad is well drawn in 3. I could see Aunty Audrey playing a part from a low draw having had a satisfactory introduction to Dundalk here 10 days ago. Timia could have had 25lbs more last week and would still have nearly won. Hitting the crossbar just doesn’t cut it, here’s hoping Indian Tom can go in again.

We have Beach Bar running tomorrow at Doncaster and it’s a first venture for us to UK shores. He travelled well and we’re hoping he gives a good account. He’s 2lbs out of the handicap (Killian’s 5lb claim helps) and it’s competitive but it’s his last turf option for a while so it’s worth having a go. Formerly useful, it’ll be interesting to see if he could be back on an upward curve. – Richard

Indian Tomahawk and Dovils Duel lock horns in what appears to be a good race for the grade. Ideally I’d keep them apart but the race fits in to both of their schedules and each of their owners are keen to take their chances. Indian Tomahawk has a terrible draw but Koybig who I think is well handicapped is drawn worse! Indian Tomahawk doesn’t do much between his races and while he seems in great form, tomorrow will tell all. I’m convinced Dovils Duel will kick in to gear at some stage and prove well handicapped. His last run was Ok but more is required. The mile will suit him and he’s drawn well.

We have a new website which is quite exciting. Have a look through some of the copy and photos. Very grateful to Bill Esdaile of Squareintheair.com for organising this and David Haddrell for his efforts also. Much appreciated. The original post gave a quick run-through of the year we have had and since then Indian Tomahawk and Beach Bar stepped up and added to our tally. We all got a huge kick from both performances. Indian Tomahawk is owned by a fantastic group of Kerrymen, Denis Enright, Donie Culloty and John Culloty. They’ve been waiting a bit for a winner and I was starting to feel the pressure. Denis has a large umbrella that he carries with him, even when it’s not raining! Beach Bar obviously saves his best for the track. It took a while to find a routine that he was happy with and even at that some of his canters were less than inspiring. I thought it was quite a good performance but the handicapper did also and gave him 7lbs. Given Sean was claiming 7lbs and was brilliant on him, it was plenty. We may consider Doncaster Saturday. He’s owned by a group of English lads headed up by David Haddrell, and he’ll likely do a bit of travelling. I gave a few days at the Horses In Training sale and came back with three. I’m pleased with the three of them. Maths Prize is a lovely 3 year old that came from Roger Charlton’s. Formerly owned by The Queen, he’s in less salubrious surroundings now. He’ll have a winter break and is one to look forward to. Alcatraz and Arc Royal will build up to the routine here and may run this side of Christmas. Solid horses both and it’s brilliant to get the support from owners.

We started in December 2016 with three in training and our first runner, Alan’s Pride, won on his third start. He was quickly followed by Patrick on his first start for us, and the penny dropped with Khabaray in March when he won. We had a hiatus in April but Khabaray was first to get a second win, in late May at Leopardstown.

Tom Dooley joined us in mid-May and Alan’s Pride won his second race in early June at Limerick. After a few placed efforts, Tom Dooley had the gall to edge out Alan’s Pride in a photo finish at Roscommon, but made up for that with two quick victories at Leopardstown and Fairyhouse. Alan’s Pride put him in his place in winning a 30-runner handicap at The Curragh in early August.

In between times, Patrick rediscovered his form with a huge effort to finish third in the historic Rockingham Handicap on Irish Derby weekend, beaten only two necks. Tom Dooley edged ahead of Alan with his fourth win in a claimer at Laytown. We lost him in the subsequent claim afterwards. Mixed emotions.

We have had 10 wins from four horses. Of the others we have run I am hopeful they will have their day in the sun. Excepting our 13-year-old lead horse. He said no more after his last run! We have a few more soldiers to run in the coming weeks but need more. I will be scouring the horses-in-training sales in the coming months to secure likely types for Dundalk and heading into the 2018 turf season. Don’t hesitate to get in touch, come visit, everyone always welcome.

2017 Richard O'Brien Racing Limited