Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle
Grade 2, Cheltenham 15:15
£70,000 guaranteed,
4yo plus,
2m 5f, Class 1  
Monday 1st January 2024


1 Bob Olinger 6/4F
2 Marie's Rock 7/4
3 Brewin'upastorm 20/1
4 ran Distances: 7l, 6l, 2½l
Time: 5m 12.75s (slow by 22.75s)

Guided by jockey Rachael Blackmore, Bob Olinger returned to the track where he had previously triumphed in the 2021 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the 2022 Turners Novices’ Chase.

Trained by Henry de Bromhead, Bob Olinger had faced challenges over fences and made a successful return to hurdling. As the 6-4 favorite for the Grade Two feature, he dominated a field of four contenders, ultimately clinching a remarkable seven-length victory over the market rival Marie’s Rock.

After a season with three runs over timber, de Bromhead had initially withdrawn Bob Olinger. However, the horse demonstrated a strong comeback at Navan and continued his winning streak at Cheltenham under the skilled guidance of Blackmore, reaffirming his form and potential in the hurdling discipline.

Blackmore said: “He was really fantastic today and jumped the best he has ever jumped – he carried me into the race beautifully. 

“He rode like the horse I thought he was and he obviously lost his way a little bit last season, but it’s great to get him back finishing up the hill at Cheltenham like that.

“I could feel I had a lot of horse underneath me and that is a great feeling when you are at the bottom of the hill at Cheltenham.

“It was a really good performance and he has taken a good step forward from his first run at Navan. A lot of work has gone into him from an awful lot of people. Big thanks to Henry and everyone down at Knockeen. There’s a lot of people who have got this horse back to what he is now.”

Bob Olinger has spent plenty of time with former jockey Robbie Power being nurtured back to his best and the Gold Cup-winning rider – who has close connections to the owners – was at Cheltenham in his capacity as De Bromhead’s race planner to watch Bob Olinger.

He said: “You would have to be impressed (with that). We were impressed with him in Navan and just hoped he would be able to back that up. 

“His home work had been very very good and he has come forward a lot since Navan and it’s great to see him back to his best. 

“He didn’t really take to chasing and the decision was made at the start of the year to stick to hurdles and see if we can get him back to his best. A lot of work has gone into him from a lot of different people so it is great to get him back. 

“To see him come back at Navan and then back up that run was impressive. 

“It was always going to be a tactical race and it is always better if you can get over to the stands rail – you can get on the better ground there and you have the rail to help, it is always a huge advantage. Rachael was keen on getting it and no one was going to stop her.

“She had the horse underneath her to get her gap and she had it at all times. 

“There is a lot of work gone in and he came to my place last February and he was there until around October, he was there for about eight months. He just lost his way and his confidence over fences and there is a lot of work gone in from vets, physiotherapists and doing different things and we have him back now hopefully. 

“We just sweetened him up, got his confidence back and let him believe he is good again and he has shown today that he does think he’s good again. 

“He’s beat Marie’s Rock giving her 7lb and that is a very good performance. He will have an entry for the Champion Hurdle but taking on Constitution Hill is probably unlikely so Aintree may be his big target.”

Owner Brian Acheson, whose horses run under the Robcour banner, was understandably thrilled with the result.

“He was hurt for so long and he kept wanting to give it his all,” said 

“You could see him coming in, he didn’t have the swagger of the Bob in the Ballymore, you could see it. Horses are emotive creatures.

“It’s just made my year, it really has.”

He added: “At some stage I will be in the ground and everyone else will be in the ground and you want to go with experience and the experience of being here with friends and family and the lads giving the prize out are two of my best buddies – you can’t buy that.

“Bob Olinger being back has made my day.”


Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2)
£70,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 2m 5f, Class 1
4 ran
Going: Heavy, Soft in places

1     Bob Olinger 9 11-6 Henry De Bromhead Rachael Blackmore 6/4F
7 Marie's Rock 9 10-13 Nicky Henderson James Bowen 7/4
6 Brewin'upastorm 11 11-6 Olly Murphy Brian Hughes 20/1
Strong Leader 7 11-0 Olly Murphy Gavin Sheehan 3/1