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