Home By The Lee is a quality hurdler and one of the National Hunt stars of the Joseph O’Brien stable, who will have high hopes for more success.
The gelding was a Grade 1 winner in 2022 and although 2023 didn’t go as hoped, Home By The Lee will be targeting a Cheltenham Festival success.
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||3.30, Thursday 14th March, 2024|
|How to watch||bet365's Sports Live Streaming, ITV Racing & Racing TV|
|Odds||Gaelic Warrior 6/1, Teahupoo 12/1, Klassical Dream 12/1, Marie’s Rock 16/1, Sire Du Berlais 16/1|
Winner of both bumpers and a Fairyhouse maiden hurdle on New Year's Day 2020, Home By The Lee flopped in two graded races over timber that spring.
The gelding finished last in a Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, before unseating his rider in a Grade 3 race at Thurles.
He went novice chasing in October 2020 and, by the following summer, was contesting tough races over fences such as the Galway Plate and the Kerry National.
Home By The Lee’s jumping didn't stand up to scrutiny in those events and so, by New Year's Eve in 2021, he was back over hurdles.
He finished second at Punchestown behind Darver Star and occupied the same berth behind winner Royal Kahala in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January 2022, at odds of 80/1.
That was enough to prompt a Stayers' Hurdle tilt, where he was an honourable sixth as Flooring Porter secured back-to-back wins for Gavin Cromwell and Danny Mullins.
Home By The Lee reappeared in August at Down Royal and ran out when finding himself short of room late on, before heading to Navan in November for the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle over two-and-a-half-miles.
That race saw the focus on Flooring Porter alongside Zanahiyr and Bob Olinger, while 28/1 poke Home By The Lee appeared all at sea as early as the fourth flight of hurdles, as JJ Slevin had to give him sharp reminders.
He never travelled sweetly at any stage but he stuck to his task and, just as Bob Olinger seemed to be putting his rivals to the sword, Home By The Lee emerged and outbattled him in the home straight.
It was an unlikely success but it has been proved as no fluke since, with Home By The Lee going to and winning the Grade 1 Jack De Bromhead Christmas Hurdle over three miles.
This time he moved much better through the race and was able to thwart a sustained challenge from Ashdale Bob late on, with Flooring Porter (fourth) and Bob Olinger (fifth) trailing in behind them.
After the impressive win at Leopardstown at Christmas 2022, Home By The Lee looked like a Stayers' Hurdle contender and he was, for a while, the ante-post favourite.
Joseph O’Brien – who was looking for a third win as a trainer at the Cheltenham Festival – gave the eight-year-old a 78-day break before heading to Prestbury Park for another crack at the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Home By The Lee was in touch with the leaders in the early stages of the race but made a bad mistake at the sixth flight and dropped into midfield.
JJ Slevin made headway on him in the turn for home and although he was outpaced before the last, he kept on will in the run-in to finish fifth – 3 and ¾ lengths behind the eventual winner, Sire Du Berlais.
Connections decided they would head to the Grand National Festival in April, with Home By The Lee running in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle.
It was more frustration though for the eight-year-old, who was pulled up two from home, with Joseph O’Brien saying he had ‘run flat’ and may have been feeling the effects of a ‘long and busy season’.
Home By The Lee is expected to target again in 2024 and is currently 25/1 in the antepost betting to win the Stayers’ Hurdle.