KILWORTH trainer Sean O'Brien has his team in tremendous winning form, and he further underlined his superb training talents at Naas races on Saturday last where he sent out his highly consistent 7-year old Wedding Present, owned by his wife Caroline and given a brilliant drive by his stable amateur Ciaran Fennessy from Fermoy, to win the concluding 2ml 3f bumper.
The O'Brien / Fennessy combination prevailed in a thrilling final furlong finish with the well backed Willie Mullins trained Super Mix, ridden by his son Pat, the current champion amateur in Ireland.
From flagfall Fennessy was always up with the pace on the favoured rails position, and with a mile to race he eased into second travelling well. He was produced to challenge with two furlongs to race, when a big danger appeared on his outside as the favourite Super Mix and Pat Mullins loomed large, and for a few strides appeared to touch the front.
Fennessy, on the rails, asked for more from his very willing partner and the response was immediate as his mount clearly realishes a battle. Digging very deep under a really powerful drive from the saddle in the heavy going, the pair stayed on powerfully up the final hill to the finish to win rather snugly by a couple of lengths from the favourite to continue O'Brien's terrific season.
The highlight of the season, no doubt, has been his sensational training performance with Golantilla, which created such a huge impression at Mallow races recently, winning by 13 lengths, and is currently favourite for the Champion bumper at Cheltenham in March. He has been sold in the meantime for a huge sum to leading owner Barry Connell to be trained by Tony Martin.
Sean O'Brien who has himself been a most successful and accomplished amateur, prior to taking out his training licence, proved here once again that given the right material which he has at present, he can train and produce the results with any of the country's leading trainers. He is never afraid to travel with the talent at his disposal, and Saturday's winner was the clear form choice going into the race, having finished a close second at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting under a positively splendid ride by Drough Mitchelstowns Eoin O'Brien, who was harshly treated by the Leopardstown stewards and suspended for, in my opinion, trying too hard.
The inconsistencies of the present day stewards make no sense whatsoever to racing people or to the general public. A case in point is where last week a jockey and trainer got a four-day ban, and their runner banned for 40 days, for making insufficient effort in a race. Compare this to the savage 10 days dished out to talented amateur Eoin O'Brien for doing his very best to win his race. The punishment does not fit the crime.