‘Ev­ery­one’s in good spir­its’

Fer­gal O’Brien talks about the im­pres­sive win­ners from New­bury

Horse & Hound - - Racing -

OUR for­tunes have turned, as af­ter a quiet Jan­uary, we’ve been all go. It’s been a good start to the month, with six win­ners at the time of press. Our 50th win­ner of the sea­son came at Hunt­ing­don on 8 Fe­bru­ary — at the same meet­ing as last year — and for the same own­ers, John and Val King, just with a dif­fer­ent horse. This year it was Rat­ify while last year it was Petite Power, so we were thrilled with that.

On Sun­day, we had a win­ner at Ex­eter with Time To Move On, mak­ing it two from two in bumpers with him. He’s been rid­den by Barry Ger­aghty both times, and he’s been im­pressed with the horse, so we’ll see how he goes. He’ll be aimed at ei­ther Chel­tenham, Ain­tree or Punchestown.

Ev­ery­one in the yard is in good spir­its. Paddy Bren­nan took ev­ery­one out for a meal the other week, which was good fun, so morale is high. The whole team works hard and gets in­volved.

POINT­ERS FROM NEW­BURY

AL­TIOR and Na­tive River were very im­pres­sive at the week­end, and couldn’t have re­ally been more so, both com­ing back with a win af­ter long lay-offs. It was a great bit of train­ing from Nicky Hen­der­son and Colin Tiz­zard re­spec­tively, it’s a lot of hard work do­ing that. How­ever, the dif­fi­cult thing is now keep­ing them on track and get­ting them to their peak on the day at Chel­tenham. Both train­ers are more than ca­pa­ble of do­ing that so it’s an ex­cit­ing prospect.

It was also great to see

Amy Mur­phy train a win­ner in Kalash­nikov in the Bet­fair Hur­dle. She works re­ally hard and it was nice to see the horse win. It was also good for Jack Quin­lan — the team has stuck with him even though they could have gone with some­one with more ex­pe­ri­ence, and their loy­alty has paid off.

A SUC­CESS­FUL IN­AU­GU­RAL MEET­ING

THE new Dublin Fes­ti­val (2-3 Fe­bru­ary at Leop­ard­stown) is a great initiative and it went well. Some of our own­ers went over and said it was a great week­end and the at­mos­phere was buzzing — I think it helped that Ire­land won the rugby and I imag­ine there were a fair few sore heads on Sun­day. It was a great Fes­ti­val though and Wil­lie Mullins was phe­nom­e­nal. I don’t think it’s fair to say that it wasn’t sup­ported by train­ers in Eng­land, just that it’s a long way to travel for heavy ground when you had a Chel­tenham trial in the UK just a week be­fore. It’s a mat­ter of do­ing what’s best for your horse, whether that’s put­ting them on a lorry for ten hours or just go­ing down the road. It’s not like it’s an easy op­tion ei­ther — you’re on Mullins/El­liott ter­ri­tory and that’s tough.

The organisers were re­warded with some good run­ners and I think the Fes­ti­val has a great fu­ture. It was heart­warm­ing to see Ed­wulf win the Ir­ish Gold Cup, es­pe­cially af­ter what hap­pened at Chel­tenham where he col­lapsed af­ter the fin­ish. It was a su­per team ef­fort and ev­ery­one was quick to praise the hard work of the Chel­tenham vets. That’s a nice side of rac­ing.

A BIT OF A MIX UP

FOR the se­cond time in sixth months horses have run in races they haven’t been en­tered for (at South­well on 14 Jan­uary African Trader was de­clared to run, but Scrib­ner Creek ran in­stead, and vice versa). It’s beg­gars be­lief how it can hap­pen as horses need scan­ning in and out so it should be nigh on im­pos­si­ble. Hope­fully it was just a blip and won’t hap­pen again.

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