‘Our Girl Salley’ going for Cheltenham glory
A WICKLOW bred racehorse looks as if she will be one of the biggest obstacles to Willie Mullins pulling off a Cheltenham hat-trick next week.
The Mullins trained Quevega is the hottest of favourites to win the David Nicholson's Mares hurdle next Tuesday but Co. Wicklow based Prunella Dobbs is set to do battle with Mullins with her own stable star Our Girl Salley.
Our Girl Salley, a six--year-old mare, was bred by John Salley Roscath, Wicklow, and is now owned by Anne and Jim O'Neill, Wicklow town.
Quevega has won both renewals of the David Nicholson race to-date by a wide margin, but bookmakers see 'Our Girl Salley', which is Prunella Dobb's sole entry in the four-day Cheltenham festival, as one of the biggest dangers to Willie Mullins' hopes of pulling off a hattrick.
The six-year-old Wicklow mare has won its last five races in some style, often leaving a lot of fresh air between her and her nearest challengers, and her last three successes were with Barry Geraghty on board.
And now Prunella Dobbs from Sheephill, Wicklow, is hoping that Barry Geraghty will choose 'Our Girl Salley' as his mount in the mares race next Tuesday and hopefully give her the biggest success todate of her ten-year career as a trainer.
Confidence in the Wicklow camp is high that Our Girl Salley can achieve the unexpected at Cheltenham.
She has a large and growing following amongst horsey people in East Wicklow, many of whom are heading to Cheltenham next week along with breeder John Salley and owners Anne and Jim O'Neill.
Thus far Our Girl Salley has topped €70,000 in winnings as in ten races run she has clocked up six wins, two seconds, a fourth and ninth position.
John Salley has also bred another horse which is also racing at Cheltenham on opening day next Tuesday.
Bet-a-Bob' a seven-year-old gelding, will be running in the Chase, the last race of the day. John Salley sold the gelding as a foal to an English purchaser.
Prunella Dobbs, who has just ten horses in her yard, says: ' Ten is a lovely number, that's enough to keep us on our toes'
'I always believed that training race horses is something you can only do if you're prepared to do it properly'
Our Girl Salley has transferred her skills to hurdling after having created seismic waves on the Irish bumper scene, and she is unbeaten in her last three starts.
‘We will probably run in the mare's race even though the opposition will be fierce. Quevega has won two years in a row and you couldn't not fancy her. But no horse is invincible,’ Dobbs said.
Deciding not to race her in the run=up to Cheltenham, Prunella said: 'It was always the idea to keep her fresh for the Festival and hopefully we will have her in super form on the day'.
While her father David owned a handful of smart horses, Prunella has carved out her own niche in the racing world. She worked for the British Bloodstock Agency for four years before learning her trade with American Hall of Famer Elliott Burch, who died earlier this year.
Our Girl Salley, with Barry Geraghty on board, leads the field over the last on the way to winning The I.T.B.A Fillies Scheme European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Racing Festival.