Sport

Bob Olinger fancied for Relkeel Hurdle success at Cheltenham

Henry De Bromhead’s hurdler looks to be back to the form of his novice campaign

Bob Olinger file photo Bob Olinger looked back to somewhere near his best on his seasonal reappearance and can build on that by claiming the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham (Tim Goode/PA)

BOB Olinger looked back to somewhere near his best on his seasonal reappearance and can build on that by claiming the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Henry de Bromhead’s charge finished off a superb novice campaign by powering up the Prestbury Park hill to win the 2021 Ballymore by seven and a half lengths.

He was also a Festival scorer 12 months later in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase, although that was a fortunate triumph following the final fence fall of Galopin Des Champs when well clear.

After being pulled up at Punchestown next time out, Bob Olinger was switched back to hurdling last term, but never quite looked himself during a trio of moderate efforts.

De Bromhead opted to draw stumps before the end of January and a spell on the sidelines seems to have done the trick, as he returned to action at Navan fully rejuvenated.

Rachael Blackmore was always sitting comfortably as Bob Olinger travelled strongly and he stayed on in fine fashion to reel in a race-fit and in-form rival in Zanahiyr.

Back on a track which perfectly suits his running style, the Irish raider will take some beating if confirming he is indeed back on song.

Libberty Hunter always looked the type to do well over fences and heads into the Close Brothers Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase in good heart.

Having been bought for £160,000 after a couple of bumper wins, he held his own as a novice hurdler but genuinely appeared to be marking time until put over bigger obstacles.

A Chepstow tumble when travelling best three out was frustrating, but Liberty Hunter soon recouped those losses when romping home by five lengths at Wincanton and Evan Williams has a good prospect on his hands.

With Venetia Williams in such excellent form, it would be no surprise to see Cloudy Glen put in a bold showing in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase.

The valiant veteran was a solid second here behind Malina Girl on his seasonal reappearance and then ran well for a long way in the Coral Gold Cup at Newbury, a race he won in 2021.

Stage Star survived a bad blunder at the final fence when prevailing in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Prestbury Park and can snap up more of the same sponsors’ money.

Last year’s Turners Novices’ Chase winner has shown he has a great engine on a number of occasions now and has been talked up as a Ryanair Chase prospect by Paul Nicholls.

Carrying 12st in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase won’t be easy, but his class is taken to shine through.