On the move O’brien gets the go ahead for new com­plex

Gloucestershire Echo - - RACING - By MELISSA JONES

AMA­JOR race­horse train­ing hub is set for change af­ter a sig­nif­i­cant plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion was given the green light.

Fer­gal O’brien, who is based in Naun­ton along­side Nigel Twis­tondavies’ op­er­a­tion, had a pro­posal for a new 80-box yard ap­proved at a meet­ing on Wed­nes­day.

He ex­pects to move his busi­ness to Ravenswell Farm, Withing­ton, in a linkup with for­mer Southamp­ton FC chair­man Ru­pert Lowe, by the sum­mer.

O’brien has 53 newly re­fur­bished sta­bles at his cur­rent lo­ca­tion, the Up­per Yard at Grange Hill Farm, which he rents from Cathy Twis­ton-davies.

That of­ten means he has to move horses around through­out the sea­son, utilising space at sev­eral pre-train­ing yards.

Ravenswell Farm will not only have more sta­bles, but a newly con­structed round gal­lop, four-fur­long gal­lop and an all-weather gal­lop over jumps too.

A horse walker, of­fice and ac­com­mo­da­tion for six staff are also part of the plans for the 550-acre arable farm.

The ap­pli­ca­tion de­scribed am­bi­tions to ‘cre­ate one of the best race­horse train­ing yards in the Cotswolds’ for a ‘not in­signif­i­cant fig­ure.’

“We are de­lighted to have been given plan­ning per­mis­sion for the new yard. It’s ex­cit­ing times,” said O’brien.

“I went to the Cotswold Dis­trict Coun­cil’s plan­ning com­mit­tee meet­ing this morn­ing in Cirences­ter where they voted in favour of it.

“Ru­pert Lowe is a friend of one of our own­ers, we set up a meet­ing and it all went from there.

“We have out­grown our cur­rent yard. We only have 53 sta­bles and about 90 horses so that cre­ates some lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues.

“We can’t wait to get started on this project and be­gin the build­ing work as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Hope­fully we will be able to move in this sum­mer.”

O’brien and Twis­ton-davies have shared their Glouces­ter­shire gal­lops since 2015, when the County Tip­per­ary na­tive moved from Cill­dara Stud near Cirences­ter and was joined by his part­ner Sally Ran­dell.

Naun­ton was a place he was al­ready very fa­mil­iar with, as he spent 18 years as as­sis­tant trainer to his new neigh­bour.

Last sea­son O’brien recorded his first Grade One suc­cess and he has trained 33 win­ners this cam­paign.

It is un­der­stood Twis­ton-davies’ son Willy will be us­ing the Up­per Yard’s fa­cil­i­ties as he turns his at­ten­tions to train­ing.

Lowe, whose land 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.

Graeme Mcpher­son and Martin Keigh­ley are other train­ers who have built ex­tra sta­bles re­cently.

Fer­gal O’brien has been rent­ing the Up­per Yard at Grange Hill Farm in Naun­ton

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