There was a shock result at Navan on Sunday when Joseph O’Brien’s Home By The Lee outbattled Bob Olinger to oblige at 28/1 in the Railway Bar Lismullen Hurdle.
Surprise in the Railway Bar Lismullen Hurdle as big-priced Home By The Lee gets the better of Bob Olinger to land the spoils for JJ Slevin & Joseph O'Brien ????@JosephOBrien2 pic.twitter.com/jHl6Ug8t9p— Navan Racecourse (@NavanRacecourse) November 13, 2022
The winner was alongside Ashdale Bob tracking the pace early on in the contest, as dual Stayers’ Hurdle champion Flooring Porter took his usual position at the head of proceedings – but looked to have a mountain to climb with a circuit to run as he drifted back through the field and traded at 1000 on the Betfair exchange.
Remarkably J.J. Slevin was able to get Home By The Lee back into contention and he was one of three, alongside Bob Olinger and Ashdale Bob, to swarm upon Flooring Porter as the field entered the home straight.
As Gavin Cromwell’s staying star began to beat a retreat, a mistake from Ashdale Bob saw him also back-peddling as the Grade 2 contest was left to Home By The Lee and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Bob Olinger to fight out the finish.
Racheal Blackmore was still travelling strongly aboard the dual Cheltenham Festival winner as the pair approached the last with little separating them, but when push came to shove it was O’Brien’s charge who pulled out more to record a two-length victory.
Assistant trainer Brendan Powell was quick to praise both the winner and his rider.
He said: “That is his strong point, staying. He’s a three-miler really.
“He had fitness on his side today and a great ride from J.J. He had a nice break from Down Royal where he was unlucky there.
“The one thing he does is hit this flat spot, but J.J. knows him well and you’d have to say it was nearly ride of the season so far.
“We sent him chasing and he hasn’t really taken to it. He’s a very decent horse on his day. Before when he ran against Flooring Porter, he was only beaten seven lengths. I said to J.J. that this track will suit him if he is on their tails.”
Delighted owner Sean O’Driscoll added: “This was a serious race and serious horses, no hiding place.
“My son said to me this morning, if he’d finished his race in Down Royal the last day, he’d have been a different price this morning. He was absolutely right.
“I want to thank Joseph, Brendan and all the team and Davina who looks after him and Damien Byrne – he hasn’t been an easy horse. We’ve had to be patient with him, he has his moments.
“I thought J.J. Slevin gave him a superb ride. He hits a flat spot in all his races and thankfully he hit a flat spot in the first half a mile today. J.J. gave him a reminder and everyone thought he was finished, but he was only getting going.”
On Bob Olinger, De Bromhead said: “I was probably disappointed to lose but if Home By The Lee wasn’t in the race, we’d have all been doing backflips.
“I don’t know what to make of it really – did we run under par or did he run over par?
“I thought he hurdled well and I loved seeing how well he travelled. Robbie (Power, assistant) keeps saying there’s a lot of positives.
“We lacked a run and will definitely improve for fitness.
“If we had been beaten by one of the other two, we probably would have said ‘that’s grand’ and I don’t want to knock the winner, he was brilliant.
“The plan was always today and go for the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle (at Leopardstown) on December 28th over three miles. I imagine it will be Leopardstown in either the two-miler or three-miler. Probably leaning towards the three miles.”