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.