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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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O'Brien's Band of Outlaws moves into Cheltenham contention with impressive Naas showing

It looks like it will be a successful March for the Irish trainer.

Band of Outlaws and J.J. Slevin win the EMS Copiers Rated Novice Hurdle during BBA Ireland Opera Hat Mares Chase Day at Naas Racecourse.
Band of Outlaws and J.J. Slevin win the EMS Copiers Rated Novice Hurdle during BBA Ireland Opera Hat Mares Chase Day at Naas Racecourse.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

JOSEPH O’BRIEN LOOKS to hold all the aces in the juvenile division this season and Band Of Outlaws added his name to the long list of Cheltenham Festival hopefuls with an impressive victory in the 2m EMS Copier Novice Hurdle at Naas this afternoon.

Cut to 8-1 joint-favourite (from 10) for the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, Band Of Outlaws joins stablemate Gardens Of Babylon, who finished second in a Grade 1 when last seen, at the head of the betting. O’Brien is also responsible for the market leaders in the Triumph Hurdle, for which Band Of Outlaws was slashed to as short as 10-1 (from 25-1).

The highly touted Sir Erec is the 13-8 favourite for the Triumph after continuing his unbeaten start over hurdles with a decisive success over Gardens Of Babylon in the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown last weekend.

 O’Brien has another leading contender in Fakir D’oudairies, who was recently bought by Sir Erec’s owner JP McManus and brings solid form to the table after a 13-length romp in the Triumph trial at Prestbury Park in late January.

 The Fred Winter looks the likely festival target for Band Of Outlaws.

“He was fairly useful on the Flat but may have been flattered slightly today”, said O’Brien. “The slow pace and messy race might have favoured him, unlike Konitho who was disappointing.

“We’ll see if Band Of Outlaws is high enough to get into the Fred Winter and he could go there.”

Brian Fleming

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