LIMERICK’S Hennessy Gold Cup winning jockey Brian O’Connell says he now ‘strongly fancies’ Last Instalment to land the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup next month.
Boher man O’Connell enjoyed one of his biggest days in the saddle on Sunday when partnering Last Instalment to a thrilling eight and a half length success in the 4160,000 Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
The big-race win saw Last Instalment’s odds for the Cheltenham Gold Cup slashed in to 7/1 by bookmakers.
Nine-year-old Last Instalment, owned by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, had been off the track since February 2012 when he came back to action at Thurles last month.
Talented Limerick horseman O’Connell, who shot to prominence after winning the Cheltenham Festival bumper aboard Dunguib in 2009, said winning prestigious races such as an Irish Hennessy was the reason he chose to become a jockey.
O’Connell said: “It felt brilliant to win on Sunday. The reason anyone wants to be a jockey is to be riding the likes of an Irish Hennessy winner. There are plenty of good jockeys, champion jockeys, who probably haven’t had the chance to ride an Irish Hennessy winner. That is the reason you become a jockey in the first place to ride the winner of a race like that.”
(See this week’s print edition of the Limerick Leader for full interview with Hennessy Gold Cup winning jockey, Brian O’Connell)