What Happened to Eoghan O'Neill?

You may remember reading this headline: Shock split as Fretwell withdraws horses from O'Neill yard. But what happened to the once winning partnership and what did the future hold for this talented trainer? 

EXCLUSIVE by COLIN MACKENZIE




Last updated at 20:44 17 March 2008



Midlands businessman John Fretwell, whose lime green colours have been so successful in recent seasons, has shocked trainer Eoghan O'Neill by severing their partnership and removing many of his horses.


O'Neill answered an advertisement for training for Fretwell four years ago and moved from Newmarket to his purpose-built stables at Averham Park just outside Newark, Nottinghamshire after impressing his new boss in an interview.


There were 72 applicants.


The ambitious Irishman delivered the goods with Fretwell's bargain-basement youngsters, many of whom were sold on at a profit at the end of their two-year-old careers.


The horses have now been split between his other existing trainer Ed McMahon, as well as new trainers Kevin Ryan, Peter Chapple- Hyam and Jeremy Noseda.


Chapple-Hyam is believed to be receiving four-year-old Medicine Path, who had a poor season last year but was runner-up to Admiralofthefleet in the Royal Lodge and third to Authorized in the Racing Post Trophy the previous season.


O'Neill, 38, married with three children and a former assistant to John Gosden and Sir Mark Prescott, was contacted yesterday, but said: "I don't want to talk about it."


He has delivered wins in the Group Two Champagne Stakes (Silent Times) and Richmond Stakes (Always Hopeful) for his principal patron, who was unavailable for comment.


O'Neill moved to Averham Park in August 2004 and since the start of 2005 had trained 96 winners.


He has had eight winners from 23 runners so far this year including four from four runs with Rapidity (not owned by Fretwell) who made all to register wins at each of the four all-weather tracks from February 3-15, a record.


Fretwell and his son Paul are frequent buyers at Doncaster Sales where they have been more than adept in spotting yearling talent.


Fretwell, 59, sold his cash-and-carry business, where he employed 600 people, four years ago and is one of the few owners in racing claiming to make a profit out of his hobby





Eoghan O'Neill
 About Eoghan O'Neill

Eoghan has held a trainers licence since 2000 in the UK and more recently in France since 2010.



During his short career as a trainer, O’Neill has sent out the winners of over 200 races, however his forte appears to be his brilliance at placing horses at black type level ensuring, for their owners, maximum value for future sales and for breeding.


O'Neill has trained the winners of the Champagne Stakes Gr 2, Firth of Clyde Gr 2, Weld Stakes Gr 3 and countless other Listed and Group races. He was denied by inches of Classic glory in 2007 in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket when Vital Equine was beaten into second place, however his quest for glory in the Newmarket classic still remains his biggest ambition after coming so desperately close.


O'Neill lives at EMLASA farm with is wife Melissa and four children, Luke, Alice, Sophie and Annabel.



O'Neill’s path to EMLASA has been a long one, having been raised on a farm in Ireland, O’Neill spent Summer holidays working with Robert Collet in Chantilly.Following O'Neill’s graduation from university where he obtained a degree in Economics and Psychology and a post-graduate degree in Business Studies from the Smurfit International School of Business at University College, Dublin he took a position as assistant trainer with Sir Mark Prescott BT at Newmarket and enjoyed three wonderful years being associated with such horses as Wizard King, Hasten To Add, Pivotal and Last Second.


Following his time with Sir Mark Prescott he joined John Gosden as assistant trainer for a further three years, where he was associated with such horses as Benny The Dip, Shantou and Ryafan. Following his experiences with such great professionals O’Neill then felt in 2000 that it was the time for him to branch out on his own.



Where is Eoghan O'Neill now?




EMLASA Farm, France
 Set in the depths of the Orne Valley in South Normandy, France lies EMLASA Farm; a purpose built equestrian property for the training of thoroughbred racehorses.


The farm has a 300 year history of successful breeding until it was recently purchased by it’s current owners Eoghan and Melissa O’Neill and their young family.


EMLASA offers a tranquil environment with 120 acres of lush grass paddocks and also second to none gallop facilities. EMLASA has two training tracks, one of natural sand and the other of SOFTRACK. The most recent innovation in gallop surfaces created by the SOFTRACK team led by Robert Brazil and Hugh Daly.


SOFTRACK is probably the best synthetic riding surface in the world and with it’s superb composition it gives Eoghan O’Neill an edge in terms of the soundness of his horses and increases the longevity of their racing careers.


The SOFTRACK gallop at EMLASA is 1200 metres on a gentle, sweeping incline.


This gives all horses, but in particular two year olds, the opportunity to experience racing conditions at home prior to racing.The sand gallop at EMLASA Farm which is 1400 metres in an oval is ideal for horses where long distance racing is their forte.


EMLASA Farm consists of a 60 box complex in two American style barns with also some loose boxes in the main yard. Each barn is equipped with horse showers, so horses can properly avail of being washed down after exercise. Plans are currently afoot and an equine swimming pool will be installed in the coming months.


There are also advanced plans for the construction of an indoor canter. This will further enhance the service Eoghan O’Neill can provide together with the current facilities described above which also include 2 horse walkers.


Why France?

 
We are currently in the early part of our racing season here in France which will be our first full season, having only moved from the UK last July. Apart from the fabulous facilities that EMLASA provides France is the world leader in terms of prize money which horses can earn by racing here, infact it is 56% better than the UK for example.


France also has a lucrative premium system for French bred horses which provides 75% premium on top of any prize money won by a French bred two year old, 63% for a French bred three year old and 48% for a French bred four year old and older.


France actually gives racehorse owners a chance to enjoy their racing without it being a continuous drain on an owners resources. For many racehorse owners France provides a nice racing environment and an opportunity of making it pay.



O'Neill Loving French Connection



May 7th, 2010


Eoghan O'Neill could make a rapid return to the big stage if his well-crafted plans work out.


British racegoers have seen a lot less of the 39-year-old since he bought a yard for the majority of his horses in France during the spring and he managed to slip under the punting radar with a 20-1 success in last Saturday's Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar.


O'Neill has never been a trainer prepared to stick to conventional boundaries and was sending out runners - and winners - all over Europe during the earlier parts of his career from bases in Newmarket and then Nottinghamshire and it is no surprise that Redcar star Lucky Like could be off travelling too.


"We'll definitely run him again," said O'Neill.


"He might go for the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (November 3) or there is also the option of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.


"I've always thought he was nice but Franny Norton got off him on Saturday and described him as a proper horse. He won very easily so we're excited about him."


Lucky Like is not the only horse in the yard with important targets. O'Neill plans to get Kieren Fallon to ride Maroon Machine in the Dewhurst and of others, he revealed:


"Times Vital is a definite runner in the Cesarewitch and Franny will ride him too. Philander is also a definite runner in the Racing Post Trophy." A former protg of Sir Mark Prescott and John Gosden, O'Neill's ambition impressed wealthy owner John Fretwell enough to invite him to train at his establishment in Averham Park near Newark in 2004.


In a four-year partnership, they shared notable victories in races like the Champagne and the Richmond Stakes.


O'Neill still has a link with Nottinghamshire and sets himself a pretty busy schedule.


"I have two bases. My satellite yard is a 120-acre farm with two Polytracks on it. We bought that in March and the easiest way to describe where it lies is to say it's 100 miles west of Paris. It's isolated, but that's the way I like it.


"I have another base at Southwell so I commute between the two. I might spend four days in France, then two in England.


"Some horses like England, some France, but the main thing we have over here (France) is the prize money, even for run-of-the-mill stuff.


"I just got fed up wi other day (Green Dandy). She's a fair filly but she came fifth and we came back with over eight grand."


O'Neill's international outlook is causing him few problems in settling in.


He explains: "I have worked in France for many years so it's not a place that is new to me. It's just nice to get back used to it again.


"I did my apprenticeship with Robert Collet, and I've had runners in Germany, Italy, England and Ireland, so I have had the experience, and a lot of people do want to send horses to me.


"Perhaps it just seems a very fresh, new idea, and people have caught on to it. Some like the idea of having a horse trained over here and they notice someone new has made the break."


Latest News


HomeLatest NewsContactLeading race horse trainers based in France


BROOX WINS DECISIVELY AT CHANTILLY


June 28th, 2010


Broox an €18,000 purchase by Eoghan O’Neill at the October Arqana Sale at Deauville, ran out an hugely impressive winner of a class B conditions race at Chantilly on Tuesday 22nd June stamping himself as one of the leading 2 year olds seen out this year in France. Olivier Peslier never had a moments worry and without moving a muscle he was a comfortable 4 length winner. After the race Eoghan O’Neill commented “He’s the best 2 year old colt I have and probably the best I’ve had since Vital Equine, he’s a very straightforward horse and enjoys his work, his relaxed nature is a big help to him and both the facilities at Emlasa Farm and my staff have done a marvellous job with him. The intention is to run in the Prix Robert Papin on 25th July at Maisons-Laffitte and we’re looking forward to his next assignment.”


Since, Broox has won at Group level with over £100,000 prize money.

To see his full race record (click)

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Caunton Beck sold to continue racing career in Switzerland


June 11th, 2010


Caunton Beck has been sold to new Swiss owners in a deal completed by Guy Petit Bloodstock. It is understood that the new owners have purchased Caunton Beck to run in the Swiss Derby on 20th June 2010.


Commenting on the sale, Eoghan O’Neill said “Caunton Beck is a progressive 3 year old stayer, with a great constitution and an invaluable toughness, he has been a great money spinner for the owners having cost €16,000, winning €66,000 and selling him for a substantial figure. We wish his new owners and trainer the very best of luck with him.”


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Broox next outing announced


June 11th, 2010


Trainer Eoghan O’Neill announced today that Broox, the highly impressive winner at Chantilly on 21st May 2010 (Prix du Berceau) will return to the same course for his next outing on 22nd June 2010.


O’Neill commented “Broox came back from his win at Chantilly in great form, it is my intention to take little steps with him and he will run in a conditions race at Chantilly on 22nd June. If this race proves successful we will look at stepping him up to black-type company.”


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O’Neill Loving French Connection


May 25th, 2010


Eoghan O’Neill could make a rapid return to the big stage if his well-crafted plans work out.


British racegoers have seen a lot less of the 39-year-old since he bought a yard for the majority of his horses in France during the spring and he managed to slip under the punting radar with a 20-1 success in last Saturday’s Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar.


O’Neill has never been a trainer prepared to stick to conventional boundaries and was sending out runners – and winners – all over Europe during the earlier parts of his career from bases in Newmarket and then Nottinghamshire and it is no surprise that Redcar star Lucky Like could be off travelling too.


“We’ll definitely run him again,” said O’Neill.


“He might go for the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte (November 3) or there is also the option of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


“I’ve always thought he was nice but Franny Norton got off him on Saturday and described him as a proper horse. He won very easily so we’re excited about him.”


Lucky Like is not the only horse in the yard with important targets. O’Neill plans to get Kieren Fallon to ride Maroon Machine in the Dewhurst.


O’Neill’s international outlook is causing him few problems in settling in. He explains: “I have worked in France for many years so it’s not a place that is new to me. It’s just nice to get back used to it again.


“I did my apprenticeship with Robert Collet, and I’ve had runners in Germany, Italy, England and Ireland, so I have had the experience, and a lot of people do want to send horses to me.


“Perhaps it just seems a very fresh, new idea, and people have caught on to it. Some like the idea of having a horse trained over here and they notice someone new has made the break.”


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O’Neill enjoys lucky strike


May 22nd, 2010


Lucky Like stretched right away from his rivals to run out a hugely impressive winner of the totepool Two-Year-Old Trophy at Redcar.


Eoghan O’Neill’s juvenile was sent off at 20-1 having had four of his previous five outings in France but his jockey Francis Norton appeared confident throughout.


Once given the office, Lucky Like quickly put distance between himself and his rivals and he was fully four lengths ahead of Kaptain Kirkup passing the post.


There will be a 15p in the pound Rule 4 deduction for winning punters as leading fancy Pastoral Player was withdrawn at the start.


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Welcome to the brand new EJ O’Neill Website (click)


April 22nd, 2010


We have just uploaded and unveiled our brand new website where you can find out all about our latest news, developments and learn all about EMLASA Farm and why we operate currently in France.


Find out more about ‘About Eoghan O’Neill’ »



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See his latest result (click) 


Please e-mail us on info@ejoneillracing.com


2015 June - 


Congratulations to connections and their Royal Ascot Chesham Stakes Listed winner, Suits You, ridden by Cristian Demoro. See the result here




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