Jul 2022 - O'Brien hopes to shine at Market Rasen Summer Plate meeting - View archive

Fergal O'Brien is gearing up to make plans for his stable stars on the back of another record season.

Gloucestershire's leading trainer, now in partnership with Graeme McPherson, has topped a century of winners for two successive campaigns.

In 2021-22, O'Brien and his co-trainer surpassed the £1million mark for prize money won with the ever-growing thoroughbred operation.

Imperial Alcazar bringing the hundred up at Cheltenham ranked as the best moment for the Cotswolds team – and they added another 28 wins to the overall tally for good measure.

Carrying the colours of 2010 Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander, the lightly-raced eight-year-old went to finish an honourable second in the Plate at the Festival.

"One of his owners, Ian Robinson, has been with me for a long time (including when O'Brien worked for Nigel Twiston-Davies) so it was great to see Imperial Alcazar run so well at Cheltenham," O'Brien told

"We thought it was going to be hard to beat 104 winners (the 2020-21 total) and we managed it, with a lot of the horses who were part of that number.

"The wheel is constantly turning. In a few weeks we'll all sit down and work out which horses we are getting in first and others that may need to wait a bit longer before they come into training.

"A lot of work goes into getting every horse where they need to be, such as with the pre-training yards, on time."

While the 130 winter horses enjoy the final stages of the summer break, 'O'Brien McPherson Racing' have some prize money to snaffle at the big summer meetings.

Market Rasen on July 16 is always a highlight, with its £40,000 Grade 3 handicap chase.

Weighing room veteran Paddy Brennan, a key cog in the set-up, finished third on Pink Eyed Pedro in last year's Summer Plate.

They were a place ahead of O'Brien's Templepark, who sadly suffered a complex injury and is much-missed by connections.

The team hope they have a contender for the upcoming renewal in the shape of Mortlach, a 130-rated chaser, who has racked up a sequence in novice handicaps.

"He has been a standout for us and his owner Doug Pocock, who drives Paddy to the races when he's available," O'Brien said.

"He gets on very well with the horse. The races he has been winning have been fairly competitive but we don't know how much he has left in the tank."

Stoner's Choice carries the same Carolyn Kendrick silks as Templepark and is one of the top-rated horses on the summer books.

A regular in handicap hurdles at a decent level, the seven-year-old successfully turned his attentions to chasing last month, defying market expectations in a Kempton match.

"Max (Kendrick, jockey) has done a lot of work with his jumping," said O'Brien.

"Stoner's Choice is not the most natural over a fence and he knows him so well. He loves good ground so we need to find some more races right-handed."

Castel Gandolfo, a full-brother to stablemate Teqany, has the Rasen Summer Hurdle as an option.

"He just missed out on a big pot (Haydock's Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final worth £25,000, April 16) when Paddy felt he got there too soon," O'Brien said.

"I'm hoping he can pick up another one. He's fairly straightforward but wears headgear as he just looks about a bit."

And new recruit Wolf Prince, who has lined up against the likes of Darasso and Darver Star in his native Ireland, is another candidate.

"His last trainer Gavin Cromwell hoped to go there, so I think we will follow that plan," O'Brien added.

O'Brien concluded: "Connections felt there may be more opportunities here in handicaps so we will see how we go."

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October 2017

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- Bailey chasing further glory

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- Reveley aims for Merano treble

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- Cesare to come up short?

November 2009

- Bolger keen on Crystal Cup

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