Saturday 14 July 2018

Fergal O'Brien

A later bloomer, trainer Irish-born Fergal O’Brien has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting trainers in British horseracing. 
O’Brien has become known for consistently producing young talent including the promising Alverado and Bradley and has struck up a sold relationship with jockey Paddy Brennan, who has ridden most of his horses. After a string of good seasons, the 2016/17 period proved to be his best with 60 wins and prize money of £600,000.

Originally from County Tipperary, Ireland O’Neill’s involvement with horses began age 14-year-old when he visited his brother at the Doug Francis Stable in Cheshire in 1987. At 16 Francis sent him to the Racing School, after which he began working under Captain Tim Forster. In 1992 and after a spell at Ginger McCain’s he began working his third Grand National-winning trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies. 
This was the start of an 18 year-period as Head Lad to Twiston-Davies’. While working under him he was responsible for preparing Grand National winners Earth Summit (1989), Bindaree (2000) and 2010 Cheltenham Cup winner Imperial Commander. 
In 2011 he confirmed he was leaving Twiston-Davies’ stable to launch his own training career. He began at Cilldara Stud in Gloucestershire, where his landlord was well-known jump jockey, Timmy Murphy. Success came quickly and during his three and a half years at Cilldara had over 150 winners.

In 2015 he moved back to familiar territory, renting Twiston-Davies’ top yard at Grange Hill Farm in the Costwolds and sharing facilities with his old trainer.

Thursday 5 July 2018

Pat Eddery

One of the leading lights in the latter part of the 20th century Pat Eddery was a flat racing jockey who still holds the joint most champion titles, three years after his sad death. With a magnificent total of 4,632 wins on the flat, Eddery had racing in his blood from an early age.

He began as an apprentice in Ireland under the guidance of Seamus McGrath and would move to England in 1967, switching to Frenchie Nicholson’s stable. His first victory in England was at Epsom Downs on Alvaro in the Spring of 1969, which was a welcome experience for the jockey, as it came after an entire season without a win.

Alvaro was something of a talisman for Pat Eddery, as 1969 saw him win 5 more races in a row on the horse and whilst still operating as an apprentice, he claimed the Wokingham Handicap, the Northumberland Plate and the Goodwood Stakes in 1971. All this happened in the year the jockey won the Apprentice Champion title.


Eddery won the senior Champion Jockey title an impressive 11 times during a long and distinguished career, claiming his last in 1996. Over his 36 years in the saddle, Pat won countless major races that included the 1,000 Guineas, the 2,000 Guineas and the Ascot Gold Cup. There wasn’t much in the flat racing world that he didn’t win in his time.

English flat racing’s switch to multi purpose tracks at the beginning of the 1990s hit Eddery hard and he found the new tracks tough to navigate. His ‘96 championship win was something of an achievement in itself, proving to the man himself that he could still do the business on the new surface.

Later in life, Pat Eddery was to struggle with alcoholism and it would eventually cost him his life at the age of just 63 from an associated heart problem. It was a sad day for racing when the South Dubliner passed and the contribution to horse racing made by this giant of the sport, will never be forgotten.