On the move? Plans submitted for O’brien’s new train­ing base

Gloucestershire Echo - - SPORTING INDEX -

PLANS have been submitted for Fer­gal O’brien’s new yard in the Cotswolds, as he con­tin­ues to ex­pand his train­ing set-up.

The Grade One-win­ning han­dler hopes to move to Ravenswell Farm, Withing­ton, as long as Cotswold District Coun­cil gives the project the green light, writes Melissa Jones.

O’brien will be based at Grange Hill Farm, Naun­ton, for the forth­com­ing jumps sea­son, where he rents the Up­per Yard from Cathy Twis­ton-davies.

As his horses have in­creased in num­bers and Willy Twis­ton-davies starts to turn his at­ten­tions to train­ing, learn­ing the ropes from his fa­ther Nigel, the move looks set to ben­e­fit all par­ties.

O’brien has 53 newly re­fur­bished sta­bles at his cur­rent lo­ca­tion but the new pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity will have 80-boxes, a round gal­lop, a four-fur­long gal­lop and an all­weather gal­lop over jumps.

A horse walker, of­fice and ac­com­mo­da­tion for six mem­bers of staff are part of the plans for the 550-acre arable farm, which be­longs to for­mer Southamp­ton FC chair­man Ru­pert Lowe.

“If we get plan­ning per­mis­sion, it will be a fan­tas­tic place with great fa­cil­i­ties,” O’brien said.

“It would be an 80-box yard which is big­ger than our cur­rent one, which we have out­grown.

“We won’t be at Grange Hill Farm next sea­son. I wanted to stay in the Cotswolds as our main owner base is here.

“Nigel’s yard has got some new own­ers now and Willy wants to crack on with the busi­ness. It’s the young gen­er­a­tion com­ing through so best of luck to them.”

The train­ers have shared the Naun­ton gal­lops since 2015, when O’brien moved from Cill­dara Stud near Cirences­ter and was joined by his part­ner Sally Ran­dell.

The link-up with the Twis­tondavies yard where the County Tip­per­ary na­tive spent 18 years as as­sis­tant trainer cre­ated the county’s big­gest train­ing hub.

Last sea­son was par­tic­u­larly good for both busi­ness­men, with Poetic Rhythm giv­ing O’brien his first Grade One in the Chal­low Novices’ Hur­dle and Twis­ton-davies achiev­ing suc­cess at the high­est level thanks to Bris­tol De Mai, as well as other no­table tri­umphs in the colours of lead­ing own­ers Si­mon Mu­nir and Isaac Souede.

The plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for Ravenswell Farm says a ‘not in­signif­i­cant fig­ure’ will be in­vested to ‘cre­ate one of the best race­horse train­ing yards in the Cotswolds.’

Some of the ex­ist­ing barns that were used for an agri­cul­tural con­tract­ing busi­ness on three fields will be con­verted- and 18 mem­bers of staff are ex­pected to trans­fer over.

Lowe, whose land for the project is well-screened by trees, was the chair­man of Southamp­ton Foot­ball Club from 1996 to 2006.

In 2008, he teamed up with Michael Wilde to be­come chair­man of the team’s par­ent com­pany, Southamp­ton Leisure Hold­ings PLC, be­fore re­sign­ing in April of the fol­low­ing year.

It has been es­ti­mated horses and their as­so­ci­ated costs are worth £54 mil­lion to the Cotswolds, a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for race­horse train­ing where yards con­tinue to ex­pand.

O’brien has trained 60 win­ners in the past two sea­sons, earn­ing £1.3 mil­lion of prize money over that pe­riod.

Trainer Fer­gal O’brien hopes to move to Ravenswell Farm, Withing­ton, from his cur­rent base at Grange Hill Farm

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