Considering the swathes of pasture and undulating hills, the Berkeley Vale is no epicentre of racehorse development and training. Given the county's predominance in so many equestrian sports, the torch is being carried by a small band of enthusiasts and professional handlers, who are nevertheless representing the area very well.
John O'Shea is one such. Not in the first flower of youth any more, John is no mug when it comes to training from his base near Coleford in the Forest of Dean. And following him just recently would have brought smiles all round.
His latest winner, Fight For It, in the opening novice hurdle at Ludlow yesterday, is the fourth winner in less than a fortnight after a clutch of winners on the flat.
Indeed, Fight For It was bred for the Flat too, being a son of Camelot, a Derby winner, and bred by the dominant Coolmore organisation that is a world leader in graded winners. Fight For It is one who slipped through the net. A slow learner, he has been schooled over hurdles by none other than Henrietta Knight, now no longer training, but using her expertise to mentor young horses or those that have lost their way.
The former Gold Cup winning trainer has certainly worked her magic, as Fight For It ran out a convincing 8l winner, and has plenty of scope to win again.
He follows up on a brace of winners at Chepstow on April 28, hard on the heels of a winner on the clifftop at Brighton 2 days earlier. Indeed, John has a sparkling 29% strike rate from his older horses presently, right up there on winner-runner ratio with the leaders of the pack.
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