Double delight for Fergal O’Brien at Chepstow

Fergal O’Brien closed in on a century of winners for the season courtesy of a double at a rain-soaked Chepstow with Ask A Honey Bee and Mahon Point.

Currently fourth in the championship which is decided on prize-money, only champion trainer Paul Nicholls has trained more winners this season.

Fittingly for O’Brien, who has spent most of his career based near the Cotswolds, he won the race named in honour of Dai Burchell, who hails from nearby Ebbw Vale.

The Happy Retirement Dai Burchell Novices’ Hurdle looked a decent event on paper with the front three pulling well clear – but it was O’Brien’s Mahon Point (9-4) who got the better of 11-10 favourite Dom Of Mary.

Winning connections of Mahon Point with the retiring Dai Burchell (centre)
Winning connections of Mahon Point with the retiring Dai Burchell (centre) (Adam Davy/PA)

“He’s a nice horse and it’s lovely to support English pointers, he came from Francesca Nimmo’s and Charlie Poste’s yard,” said O’Brien.

“He’s for a great group of owners who have had horses with me since the beginning and this looks like a nice one.

“They’ve been patient, he was third in a bumper and today was good again. The second was entered in the Tolworth and the third horse (Crossing Lines) ran a very good race on his first run for two years.

“To win the race named after Dai is great. I’ve had a couple off Dai and he’s had a couple off us and everything he has got he improved and got a win out of.

“He’s a very good trainer but forgetting that, you can only speak as you find and he’s always been a lovely man to me, very good to talk to and a genuinely nice man. I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Another to pay tribute to 84-year-old Burchell was former jockey turned trainer Christian Williams, who said: “Dai Burchell probably gave me my last five winners. He is a great man, a wonderful man.

“We got a horse off him last year and won a little race with him, but there was no improvement from his mark from Dai Burchell – we found that out for ourselves. He is as good at the job as anyone and he’s been in the game so long.

“If I am still training at his age, it means I’ve ran a successful business, kept my head above water and supported my family. If I can do what that man has done and stay in the game for that long, it would be great.”

It may not have been straightforward but Ask A Honey Bee landed odds of 1-9
It may not have been straightforward but Ask A Honey Bee landed odds of 1-9 (Adam Davy/PA)

While O’Brien may not have many win at as short a price as Ask A Honey Bee’s 1-9, it was far from straightforward in the three-runner Visit Irish Store Sales With ITM Novices’ Chase.

Paddy Brennan briefly looked under pressure as Captain Cuckoo loomed up, but the favourite’s ability came through in the end.

“It was Neil Jukes, our race planner, who spotted this race, we had no intention of running him,” said O’Brien.

“He’ll be better in a better race where he gets a lead for longer. Thankfully he got the job done, but hand on my heart I would not have been surprised had he got beat – very disappointed, but not surprised.

“You only needed to see how he jumped the last that he had loads left. It might have been ugly, but he got it done.”

Git Maker jumps the last under Gavin Sheehan
Git Maker jumps the last under Gavin Sheehan (Adam Davy/PA)

Jamie Snowden’s Git Maker (9-4 favourite) came from the more traditional Irish pointing fields and looks a nice prospect following his win in division one of the Play Coral Racing Super Series For Free Maiden Hurdle.

“He’s a lovely young horse. He quickened up twice today, he really lengthens and that is always nice to see,” said Snowden.

“I think the first division looked a better race on paper and the first two pulled nicely clear.

“I think we’ll just go quietly this year before going chasing next year, that’s got to be the plan, he’s a staying chaser of the future. It’s a cliché but what he does this season is a bonus.”

Git Maker beat Anthony Honeyball’s Marco Island, but Honeyball won the second division with Hatos (5-2).

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