'You haven't got long enough for me to pay tribute' - Perfect Candidate retires
Fergal O'Brien on Wednesday paid tribute to Perfect Candidate after calling time on the popular staying chaser's career following his outing at Haydock on Saturday.
The 14-year-old was pulled up by Paddy Brennan in the track's Grand National Trial, but that did not take the gloss off a fine innings that yielded nine wins from 45 starts and £156,621 in prize-money.
Those victories included a Grade 3 strike at Cheltenham's November meeting in 2017 and back-to-back successes in a 3m4½f handicap chase at Haydock this term and last.
"You haven't got long enough for me to pay tribute to Perfect Candidate!" O'Brien joked.
"He's been a fantastic horse who has been with me since he was a four-year-old. He won plenty of races around Cheltenham and also did very well at Haydock.
"He's still in great form and looks fantastic, but we just wanted him to go out in one piece.
"To have him and the likes of Bradley, Alvarado and Creevytennant when I started training was amazing."
All good things come to an end— Fergal O’Brien Racing (@FOBRacing) February 24, 2021
He ran every calendar year since 2012 for us, winning nine times
He won races from each of the three yards we’ve trained from
Forever a stable legend
Happy retirement Perfect Candidate pic.twitter.com/nf1o31USgc
O'Brien, who is based in Gloucestershire not far from Cheltenham, added: "There are no real plans for him and he'll always have a home here. He could lead the babies, but there's lots he could do as he's so straightforward.
"I bought him from a point-to-point trainer in Ireland after a friend of mine, Richard Curran, had taken us round. We saw about 20 horses and he was the last and the one we bought – he fitted our budget!
"I think we paid £15,000 or £16,000 for him."
Rated 156 at his peak, Perfect Candidate raced in the colours of ISL Recruitment, which was the reason behind his name.
"Geoff and Donna Keeys's son Henry had just started a recruitment business, which is why he was called Perfect Candidate.
"He has given the family a lot of fun. I suppose his win at Haydock in November stands out as hardly anything else finished, which summed up how tough he was.
"I remember once when Geoff went to Uttoxeter for another runner and the rest of us were at Cheltenham. I think I told Geoff that Perfect Candidate, who won, didn't have much chance so he should go to Uttoxeter, which didn't make me very popular. But there were plenty of great days."
Perfect Candidate was bred by Hugh Suffern, who used to stand the gelding's sire Winged Love at his Tullyraine House base in County Down.
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