Grand National 2018 Fact Files
Perfect Candidate (IRE) 11-11-02
Breeding: b gWinged Love - Dansana (Insan)
Breeder: Hugh Suffern Bloodstock Ltd
Born: May 12, 2007
Owner: ISL Recruitment
Trainer: Fergal O'Brien
Jockey: Paddy Brennan
*Struggled in last two races, when 10th at Sandown Park in a veterans' chase over three miles on January 6, before finishing a well-beaten fifth behind Definitly Red
in the G2 BetBright Cotswold Chase
at Cheltenham on January 27.
*Boasts a fine record at Cheltenham, winning three handicap chases at the course, two in 2016 and the latest coming in a G3 handicap chase in November, 2017. Was also a nose second to Theatre Guide
in the G3 Unicoin Handicap Chase
(3m 2f) at the 2016 November Meeting.
*Pulled up before the fourth-last fence in the 2017 Randox Health Grand National won by One For Arthur
*Lives in the stable next door to Alvarado
, who was fourth in both the 2014 and 2015 Grand Nationals - O'Brien describes the pair as "best of friends".
Jump race record: Starts 30; Wins 7; 2nd 3; 3rd 1. Win & Place Prize Money: £111,947
Incite Solutions Limited (ISL) Recruitment is a Bristol-based business that was founded by Geoffrey Keeys
and Simon Ranahan in 2007. ISL an award-winning specialist IT and engineering recruitment consultancy. Keeys has a degree in law from Manchester University and over 30 years board experience in international business in the oil, engineering and financial services industries as well as in the UK public sector. He was Director of Group Business Services for Prudential Corporation plc between 1984 and 1995. Prior to joining Prudential, he held director positions for Chubb plc which had worldwide businesses in the mechanical and electronic security industry and for Massey Ferguson's European and World Export operations, a manufacturer and distributor of agricultural equipment. In 1995 he started the Strategic Thinking Group in the UK, a business that provides clients with processes that help them develop, implement and sustain their business strategy. He has worked closely with chairmen, chief executives and other board members of businesses both on the development and implementation of business strategy and board effectiveness issues. He was a non-executive director of Her Majesty's Prison Service in the early 1990s and has been a trustee of a number of charities and pension funds. He is an investor in early-stage businesses. His clients include FTSE 100 organisations such as Prudential Corporation plc and Old Mutual, FTSE 250 organisations such as Christian Salvesen and UK Mail as well as not for profit organisations such as the London Clinic and the Institute for Customer Service. Geoff and his wife Donna
, who live in the Gloucestershire village of Ford, have been heavily involved with the Fergal O'Brien stable since the trainer took out his licence in 2011 - ISL is the stable's sponsor and Fergal credits Geoff as a mentor to the business side of the operation. The couple have also been long-standing owners with O'Brien's neighbour Nigel Twiston-Davies. Initially involved in syndicates, the Keeys started having runners in their own colours in the late 1990s. One of their first horses to run in their colours was Gentle Rivage who won a G2 novices' hurdle at Uttoxeter in 1999 before going to finish third in the G1 Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2000. Perfect Candidate provided them with a big-race success when landing the G3 BetVictor.com Handicap Chase at Cheltenham's November Meeting in 2017.
Previous Randox Health Grand National Record: 2017 Perfect Candidate (PU 26th)
Fergal O'Brien (Guiting Power, Gloucestershire)
Limerick,Ireland, August 19, 1972 Background:
His father was a bus driver. He started riding at the age of nine, as his two older brothers, David and Brian, were keen on horses. He followed his brothers by working at Andrew McNamara's yard at weekends and during school holidays, before spending two months at the age of 14 in England with Doug Francis, where Brian worked. After finishing his schooling in Ireland aged 16, he went to Newmarket's British Racing School for a nine-week course in 1989 and shortly afterwards was sent to Tim Forster's Oxfordshire yard, where he worked for three years. Joined private trainer Colin Cowley to pursue a career as a jockey, but, after two rides, realised it was not for him and switched to the Nigel Twiston-Davies team in Gloucestershire in July, 1992. Spent 18 years at Grange Hill Farm, including 16 as head lad. Successfully started training point-to-pointers in 2003, while working for Nigel, and was champion point-to-point trainer in the West Midlands area for four seasons. Took out his own training licence in September, 2011, from Grand National-winning jockey Timmy Murphy's yard at Cilldara Stud near Fossebridge. He enjoyed his best season to date in 2016/2017 with 60 successes and this season has had 56 wins (up to April 2), having moved next door to Twiston-Davies in July, 2015. Notable winners have included Alvarado, who took a G3 handicap chase at Cheltenham in 2013, and Colin's Sister, successful in the G2 Jane Seymour Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Sandown Park in February, 2017. Other notable winners include a first G1 success following Poetic Rhythm's victory in the 2017 Challow Hurdle at Newbury, Chase The Spud's 2017 Betfred Midlands National success at Uttoxeter and dual Listed and G2 scorer Cap Soleil. O'Brien is assisted by his partner Sally Randell, a former trainer and successful amateur jockey. O'Brien and his team have a penchant for cakes, hold weekly "Bake Off" competitions and are very active on Twitter with their Twitter handle @FOBRacing boasting over 14.5K followers. Randox Health Grand National Record: 2014 Alvarado (4th), 2015 Alvarado (4th), 2017 Perfect Candidate (PU 27th)