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Fergal O'Brien Stable Tour: Hopes high that Imperial Alcazar will scale heights

Wed 14 Oct 2020
 O'Brien has already chalked up 38 winners this campaign (Focusonracing)
O'Brien has already chalked up 38 winners this campaign (Focusonracing)

Fergal O’Brien has enjoyed a brilliant start to the National Hunt season.

He led the trainers’ championship for all of September and into October only to be knocked off the spot by Paul Nicholls last weekend.

O’Brien has already recorded 39 winners this season and is operating at a 28% strike rate.

“At the end of August and beginning of September, when we went to the top, Paul Nichols very kindly sent me a tongue in cheek message saying “well done but you won’t be there for too long!”. It was very nice of him to even notice.

“We are not under any illusions, but all we can do is keep on going and to be still there for the whole of September and into October, we are delighted. It is tough times and for us to have had 39 winners at this time of the year having missed two months of the season – we can’t really believe it ourselves.

O’Brien and his team moved to Ravenswell Farm last season and the horses seem to be enjoying their new home. “Even the wet, horrible and windy days here are fantastic, It's a great place to train,” he said. “We've got a very good landlord - Rupert and Nick Lowe have been fantastic to us and provided us with a wonderful facility.

"It means that we can concentrate on training the horses. We've got about 30 horses turned out in the fields in the lovely sunshine and that's great for the horses. It's great for the staff as well, they love working here. It has been fantastic, It has been it's been a dream come true."

O’Brien has been looking ahead to the season and the Unibet ambassador has given updates on some of his team.

Ask A Honey Bee

Ask A Honey Bee won at Wetherby on Wednesday and O'Brien also reflected on the run of Champagne Well

Ask A Honey Bee couldn’t have done any more last year, he won his three bumpers and then pitched up at Cheltenham in the Champion Bumper and finished thirteenth. He’s a lovely horse and we will start off in a two-and-a-half-mile novice hurdle somewhere.

Benny's Bridge

Benny's Bridge will seek a repeat success at Cheltenham

Benny's Bridge won the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle race at Cheltenham’s October meeting last year. He was the third leg of our treble that day and he looked very impressive. He was then favourite for the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at the following meeting at Cheltenham in November. He made an awkward jump at the second and he pulled some muscles in his back. He did something and he was never right after that. His owners, Biddestone Racing, are good supporters of mine and he went away to a local girl called Claire Hart who did a great job on getting him back together. He came back here looking a million dollars. The plan would hopefully be to go back to the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham. Paddy [Brennan] is really keen to get him over fences and we have schooled him over fences. He will be another nice two miler chaser in time.

Brief Ambition

I really like him. He ran at Uttoxeter this month and got beaten by a very good horse of Nigel Twiston-Davies (One True King) which finished tenth in the Festival Bumper. We were ten lengths behind him at the Festival and only got beaten by four lengths on Tuesday. It was a great start, and we will step him up in trip.

Castel Gandolfo

He is a lovely horse. He was put to me from Jessica Harrington's because we trained his full brother Teqany, who's been fantastic for us. He has had three runs on the Flat and is rated 76 on the Flat in Ireland. He has really taken to jumping and I am looking forward to him. We hope he could be very smart juvenile.

Champagne Well

Champagne Well wins at Cheltenham last season

He was running a really good race at Cheltenham last year in the Coral Cup, Brian Hughes gave him a lovely ride. He missed the third last, and that put the end to his race. Whether he was getting tired towards home, I don't know. He is really exciting and we are really looking forward to him going over fences. He has always looked like he would make a better chaser then a hurdler.

Don’t Hesitate

She came from William Mullins, one of Jared Sullivan horses. She has schooled well and we are looking forward to her.

Gino Trail

Gino Trail came to us from Kerry Lee after Cheltenham’s October meeting last year. It took us a bit of time to get to know him and for him to get to know us, he was set in his own ways, but he has been great and very enthusiastic. He did us proud at Doncaster last year, Paddy gave him a fantastic ride. Paddy got injured during the Cheltenham Festival and so Jamie Moore rode him in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual. Jamie said he gave him a lovely feel, but the ground was too quick and he just couldn’t get the speed. He looks a million dollars for an old boy and we’re looking forward to getting him out, either at Sandown or Ascot at the end of the month, which will hopefully suit him.

Hunny Moon

Hunny Moon wins on her Stratford debut

We have had her since she was a three-year-old and everything that could have gone wrong with her, has gone wrong. I took her to Stratford on the Monday before the Cheltenham Festival last season, and to her credit and she ran an absolute blinder. I was always hopeful she would run OK in a bumper, but I didn’t think she would win a Stratford bumper. She came right the way around the outside and she did it really well, I was blown away by her. She will have another go in a bumper and will probably go to Aintree.

Hurricane Harvey

We went to Uttoxeter at the beginning of this month thinking if we can get round in the first three or four, I'd be absolutely delighted. Conor [Brace] gave him a fantastic ride. I couldn't have been happier the way the horse travelled and jumped. He may go to Cheltenham for the three miler at the end of October.

Imperial Alcazar

Murphy told us more about Imperial Alcazar after his leicester success

He's a beautiful horse, so laidback, so straightforward, he is very easy to train. He has got a great syndicate of owners, Imperial racing, who have been a fantastic supporter of mine. I hope he turns out to be as good as we all hope he is. He has done everything we wanted him to do - he won at Aintree last year and then won a nice race beating a horse of the Noel Fehily Partnership, Muckamore, at Leicester, who came out and won afterwards. He will go novice chasing. I'm not really sure where we will go yet but he will be one to look forward to. We deliberately avoided Cheltenham because we thought we would go to Aintree, a flat track, he'd already won round there and we thought we'd go there nice and fresh, but it wasn't to be. That's life and we're delighted to have him back, he looks so well. Kevin Ross has done a good job pretraining.

Jarveys Plate

Jarveys Plate was very disappointing at Perth on his seasonal re-appearance. We went to Perth thinking we'd be very competitive, and we were beaten a long way out. He's back in one piece and we'll find something else for him again soon.

Lies About Milan

He did well in novice hurdles for us last year. He reminds me of a lovely old horse called Bradley we had and I am looking forward to him going over some fences as well.

Liosduin Bhearna

Liosduin Bhearna did nothing wrong for us last year. We ran him in the £100,000 Stayers' Handicap Hurdle at Haydock and he fell. He bounced back from that. He has been a wonderful servant. I am really looking forward to him going over fences. He is very straightforward and easy to train.

Ocean Cove

Ocean Cove is a second-season novice chaser. He is very straightforward and he will make up into a lovely chaser one day. We have a few options for him but no solid plans yet.

Perfect Candidate

 The evergreen Perfect Candidate will be back for more
The evergreen Perfect Candidate will be back for more

He is nearly as old as me! He’s been fantastic. He has won out of every yard that we have been in and this is now our third yard. He did the business again last year – he was placed at Exeter and won at Haydock. He then went back to Haydock and was placed in a good race. He looks as good as ever. This year he is thirteen, he has done a bit of team chasing and a bit of autumn hunting. He looks in great form and I think we will go down the same route and go back to Exeter and Haydock.

Petite Power

Petite Power has been a fantastic horse for us. He gave Liam Harrison his first Cheltenham winner last year after being off for two years. He is up a bit in the weights now, I think we have got the Durham National pencilled in for him. He has been a great servant for us.

Silver Hallmark

He’s a very exciting and a beautiful horse that the Ruckers' bought us last year. He did very well in his first bumper around Newbury, the form is rock solid. He then came out and won first time over hurdles at Chepstow beating McFabulous. We went from Chepstow to Sandown, to a Grade One (Unibet Tolworth Novices' Hurdle) and he just didn’t fire at all that day. It was horrible ground, but we couldn’t find much wrong with him when he came back. The owners are extremely patient people, thankfully. Adam Wedge has already schooled him over fences and I am really looking forward to him going chasing. No real plans yet, but he will start off over two and a half miles. He is a lovely horse.

Totterdown

He has been great this year, he has settled into Ravenswell Farm and he will start off either at Market Rasen or Exeter. He is very exciting. He is late to the chasing game, but Paddy [Brennan] thinks it'll be a great help to him. He didn't do anything wrong for us last year, he won first time out and then he was a very good third at Sandown. He’s a nice horse to go novice chasing with.

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