Fergal O’Brien: Our first Grade One is a big deal *H&H VIP*

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  • Opinion

    The highlight for us recently has been Poetic Rhythm winning the Challow Hurdle at Newbury just after Christmas and we’re all absolutely thrilled. We were hoping he’d run well, as he was sent off 15-8 favourite, but to secure my first Grade One as a trainer is really something.

    He is a genuine horse, but he had colic in the run-up to the race. Luckily the vet didn’t have to do anything so we continued with his normal training and it all went to plan.

    It wasn’t an easy race —the ground was heavy and Paddy Brennan really had to battle. He held off frontrunner Mulcahys Hill by a short head, so it was very exciting. It’s really important for us as a yard, we’ve had a good season and to get that Grade One was a big deal. It was fantastic to win it for The Yes No Wait Sorries syndicate too, as founder/manager Chris Coley, is such a major supporter of the team.

    It’s great to get that achievement ticked off the list, now we’re just hoping for a Cheltenham Festival winner.

    Could Bowen be the next AP McCoy?

    James Bowen has been making waves this month, too, winning the Welsh National. Chase The Spud was disappointing for us in the race, but came back fine and he’ll have his day.

    However, all eyes were on James. He’s just 16 — the youngest jockey to win the race — and gave Raz De Maree such a cool ride. Then to win the Lanzarote Hurdle for his boss Nicky Henderson in the same month is really something.

    When using the whip, he looks a natural both right- and left-handed, which a lot of young lads can’t do. I think the comparisons being made to AP McCoy are valid — this time last year he hadn’t even ridden in a point-to-point, and now look at him. His biggest asset is his family. His dad, National Hunt trainer Peter, and mum Karen really keep him grounded.

    Frost is a great women’s role model

    Bryony Frost, who became only the second female jockey to win a Grade One last month, is continuing to prove herself as an excellent jockey, especially when winning the Classic Chase at Warwick by 11 lengths with Milansbar.

    As we’ve said before, 22-year-old Bryony speaks well and is a great ambassador for the sport. I have two daughters — Fern, aged 12, and Daisy, 10 — who both want to get into racing, and someone like Bryony is a great role model for my girls. Both of them are in the Cotswold branch of the Pony Club and we’ve just found a pony for Fern to start pony racing, so watch this space.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 18 January 2018