1 Fergal

Fergal O’Brien sets his sights on the William Hill Perth Festival

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Having recently recorded his maiden century of winners, Fergal O’Brien has his sights set on the feature race on the opening day of the William Hill Perth Festival tomorrow (Wednesday 21 April).


The Cheltenham trainer saddles Stoner’s Choice, on 143 the top-rated horse, in the Listed British EBF William Hill Gold Castle “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.


Since he took out a licence just over 20 years ago, Perth has been a happy hunting ground for O’Brien and he has enjoyed a handsome 26 per-cent strike rate from 31 winners at the Scone track - only Uttoxeter (37) has supplied him with a higher tally. 


O’Brien said: “I love coming up to Perth and so do all my owners. They really look after us and they do a great job with the ground.


“Stoner’s Choice won at the track and Market Rasen and then had a break. Since coming back he has won at Ascot but this particular race has been on his radar for a long time.”


Opposition to Stoner’s Choice include Paul Nicholls-trained Threeunderthrufive and Nicky Richards’ Castle Rushen who are rated 139 and 135 respectively.


Nicholls, about to be crowned champion jumps trainer for the twelfth season, has only one other runner over the three days and it is Carry On The Magic in the Remembering Tim Hardie Maiden Hurdle.


The last two runnings of the William Hill Extra Places Every Day Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase were won by horses partnered by Ross Chapman and Uptown Harry, for Northumberland trainer Jane Walton.


The line-up includes Landofsmiles for Welsh trainer Peter Bowen, who also runs Francky Du Berlais in the Perth Phil Nelson Supports Perth Handicap Chase at the venue which boasts his joint-best winners to runners ratio.


Fresh from scooping the Scottish Grand National on Sunday, locally-based Lucinda Russell is represented by Southern Girl in the mares’ hurdle and A Ladies Man in division one of the amateur jockeys’ handicap hurdle.


The three-day William Hill Perth Festival takes place behind closed doors from Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 April.