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A trip to Fergal O’Brien’s training yard

On January 17, 2020, reporter Jacob Tombling went on a visit to Fergal O’Brien’s training yard, here are his thoughts on the day.

Now, I have never been to a race horse training yard before and I would’ve been pleasantly surprised that it was essentially a lot like a farm, if I had been better prepared in terms of my attire.

It turns out that wearing trainers is not a smart plan. Indeed, saying ‘yes please, that would be great’ in response to being offered a pair of Fergal O’Brien’s wellies, is hardly the first impression I wanted to make.

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However, once I’d forced the wellies onto my feet, we set off to the gallops to view the horses going on their first runs of the day, their silhouettes briskly running past as their breath created miniature clouds around their heads. They really are magnificent beasts.

One of the first things you notice when the horses go past is the sheer size of them. Not that they’ve ever looked small but seeing them on a television screen in comparison to seeing the raw sinew and muscle up close, it’s quite daunting.

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We saw the horses run up the gallops a few times throughout the day, each time amazed at the fluidity of their running up the steep hillside of the yard. But it was the temperature that really amazed us.

How was it this cold? It felt like a mist had descended on the yard from the collection of everyone’s cloud of breath forming together, my feet felt like stone slabs, not helped by O’Brien’s quite frankly tiny wellies. Although if you’re reading this Fergal I am very grateful I swear.

O’Brien showed us around the stables in the afternoon, taking us from the pens where the horses are kept, to the walking machine used to warm up the horses in the morning.

It’s a very impressive set up it has to be said, and the only thing I would’ve changed about it would be to visit in June!

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