Bruree based trainer, Enda Bolger, is confident that he has uncovered the reason behind On The Fringe’s below par performances last term.
He is hopeful that the JP McManus owned gelding can rediscover the form that saw him complete back to back festival hat-tricks in 2015 and 2016, at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown respectively.
His 2017 campaign proved to be very disappointing, despite following the same preparations that had previously yielded such success.
“Before he went to Cheltenham we followed the same path as we did the year before, nothing changed, he looked well and was moving well – I was bullish about him.”
Despite the best efforts of the supremely talented Jamie Codd, the 11/8 favourite just never found his rhythm and Bolger was left feeling despondent, “He struggled in Cheltenham to lie up in that race and you’re asking yourself then is age catching up with him”.
The 12 year-old underwent a wide range of tests in the off season and it would appear that “kissing spines” may well have been at the root of the problem.
“We discovered that he had a thing called kissing spines which means there’s rubbing – Probably like a human with a disc or something – he couldn’t have been himself.”
Despite a campaign to forget, Bolger is happy with his charges current condition and is looking forward to sending him to post once again this season, “That’s put right and he’s back in training. He’s cantering around this morning and is bouncing, hopefully we’ve put that to bed, and it’s not like he’s over raced, his races are spaced out”.
Having secured a career earning of almost €230,000, Bolger freely admits that the years during which On The Fringe proved to be invincible, were an “amazing” time to be affiliated with a horse of such stature who established himself as a firm favourite of punter on both sides of The Irish Sea.
“To win at Cheltenham was out of this world, he so excelled around Aintree and to win at Punchestown that evening was special. It’s just a pity it wasn’t one of the televised races, the crowd just went mad.”
With a renewed sense of optimism now surrounding the twelve-time winner, the plan of action for the forthcoming campaign would, at this time, appear to encompass a seasonal debut at Down Royal at Christmas as was the case in 2013 and 2014.
“We might just start him off a bit earlier this year and go to Down Royal on Stephen’s Day with him and work him up that way,” he added.