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17-year-old Fern O’Brien set for Foxhunters appearance

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17-year-old Fern O’Brien set for Foxhunters appearance


Seventeen-year-old schoolgirl Fern O’Brien will be taking a break from her studies as she takes on the daunting Grand National fences in the Foxhunters Chase on Thursday afternoon.

Fern O’Brien, a Cotswold School student who is studying Business, Psychology and Core Maths, is enjoying an improving career as a jockey. The seventeen-year-old is jump trainer Fergal O’Brien’s daughter and she won at Carlisle in August 2021 on her first ever competitive outing. She had her very first win over obstacles less than two months ago at Leicester.

The schoolgirl will be aiming to add another notable victory to her already-impressive and burgeoning CV when she joins the line-up for the Foxhunters Chase on Day One of the 2023 Randox Grand National Festival on Thursday aboard Sir Jack Yeats, trained by her father. 

This horse is a bit of a seasoned pro at this venue, the twelve-year-old having completed the course on all five of his outings here and Fern is hopeful that he can make it six later this week. 

She said: “I’m so looking forward to it. The horse I’m riding Sir Jack Yeats has been round there a few times and completed every time, so he knows exactly what he’s doing.

“This race is what he was bought for so hopefully he can do me proud. You wouldn’t think he’s 12 either, he goes about his work every day like a fresh two-year-old – he’s absolutely ridiculous!

“I’ve ridden him four times now and he’s been great. He’s a relatively straightforward ride and the main thing is just to keep him interested – as he’s an older horse and he’s very wise to everything now. If you get that right he’s such a good spin in a race.

“We took most of our Aintree horses to Lambourn the other day for a gallop and three had a pop over the Grand National fences over there. Sir Jack Yeats was one of them and I could barely hold him because he just goes so numb! The fences really light him up and he just loves it.

“The main aim is to get round and I’d love for him to run well because he deserves it as he’s such a good horse. We’ll see how he goes as there are some really nice horses in there.

“I had to get a Category B amateur licence to be able to ride in the Foxhunters, I went up to Doncaster for a few days in February to get it sorted, so I can’t wait to get going now.”