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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Al O'Connell, trainer of Irish Champion Hurdle hero Classical Charm, dies

Glens Music: one of O'Connell's leading performers down the years
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Former trainer Al O'Connell, best remembered for his handling of high-class hurdler Classical Charm, who finished second to Celtic Shot at 33-1 in the 1988 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, has died.

Classical Charm provided O’Connell with one of his best days on a racecourse that season when winning the Wessel Cable Champion Hurdle – now the Irish Champion Hurdle – under Ken Morgan at Leopardstown.

Another flagbearer for the Meath man was Glens Music, who won nine races for the yard including a Grade 2 novice chase at Naas in 2003.

The mare's racing career ended not long after that career highlight but she went on to make a lasting impression as a broodmare, producing Glens Melody, whose victories included the Grade 1 Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015 for Willie Mullins.

Mullins also trained two other offspring of the mare, Ceol Rua and Glens Harmony, to win multiple races, while Lean Araig and Quietly Fancied are other siblings who carved out successful racing careers for Oliver McKiernan.

Private removal will take place on Monday from O’Connell’s home to St Patrick’s Church, Donaghmore for the funeral mass at 11am. Burial will be in the adjoining cemetery.

O’Connell, who was in his eighties, is survived by wife Betty, daughters Claire – who holds the training licence – and Anne, and sons John and Brian. 

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He finished second to Celtic Shot at 33-1 in the 1988 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
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