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'You haven't got long enough for me to pay tribute' - Perfect Candidate retires

Perfect Candidate: popular staying chaser won nine times
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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.

Watch Perfect Candidate win at Haydock in November

"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."

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."

Fergal O'Brien: "He's still in great form and looks fantastic"

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.

Read more on Fergal O'Brien:

'This is just the start' – Paddy Brennan predicts big future for Fergal O'Brien

Fergal O'Brien adds second yard to expand his thriving training operation

Fergal O'Brien pays tribute as Grand National specialist Alvarado is retired

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We saw about 20 horses and he was the last and the one we bought – he fitted our budget!
E.W. Terms