Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy will head to the farm for the remainder of the season rather than the racecourse as owner Philip Reynolds outlined the strategy for his assault on jump racing's biggest crown next March.
Trained in County Galway by Pat Kelly, the seven-year-old, a top-priced 7-1 favourite on Sunday for next year's Gold Cup after a faultless display in the RSA Chase, will take a well-earned break at Reynolds' farm in County Westmeath, rather than appear at Aintree or Punchestown.
Reynolds, the son of former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, said: “We’re going to pull the plug for this season. To have one as good as Presenting Percy, you need to mind him and look after him and we’re going to give him every chance.
“I can’t wait to get him home to my own farm in the next couple of weeks. I can go down and drool over him all summer so it’ll be great. We’ll send him back to the west in August, where hopefully Pat can work his magic again.”
A hugely successful businessman, Reynolds has horses with many of the top stables in Ireland, but describes Kelly, who famously shuns the limelight and rarely gives interviews, as a genius who deserves to be written about further.
Irish-trained horses dominated last week’s festival with the powerhouses of Gordon Elliott [eight winners], Willie Mullins [seven] and Henry de Bromhead [one] leading the charge, but Kelly, who has just 15 horses in training, proved that with the right resources the smaller handler can get in on the act.
Speaking about Kelly, who has given Reynolds a winner at the last three Cheltenham Festivals, the owner said: “For Pat to do what he’s done, with the number of horses he has in training, is just phenomenal.
“People might think I’ve gone out and blown out the lights and bought really expensive horses to put into training with Pat, but that’s not the case at all.
“The word genius is used far too often, but Pat is exactly that and he was a genius before I ever had horses with him.
“He’s got nine horses in training for me and about five or six for other people. Out of those nine horses he’s provided me with Cheltenham Festival success for the past three successive seasons, which is an amazing achievement.”
Reflecting on last week’s winner, Presenting Percy, the popular owner said: “He was incredible – absolutely unbelievable. He was foot perfect the whole way round and I thought Monalee put up a brilliant performance as well. I thought it was a sensational performance from both horses and it served up a terrific race.”
On Mall Dini, a former Pertemps Final winner who finished second in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase last week, Reynolds added: “He didn’t get his ground at Cheltenham and we actually had second thoughts about sending him over.
“I thought he ran an unbelievable race. The Irish National may come a bit soon for him, but if it came up good you’d never know.
“We're also thinking about bringing him to Aintree this year with a view towards running him in the Aintree Grand National next year, so we’ll see how he is over the next week or so and keep one eye on the weather as well.”