Tributes paid to icon of Irish racing - Oliver Brady
Irish racing lost one of its greatest characters and the country one of its most enterprising charity workers when trainer Oliver Brady died peacefully in his sleep yesterday.
A native of Castleblaney in Co Monaghan, Brady (75) was first diagnosed with cancer in 1995. Renowned for his rousing post-race orations in winners' enclosures, he had fought a long battle with a variety of illnesses since then.
He was given just six months to live 11 years ago, after a cyst the size of a golf ball was found in his stomach, and he underwent a quadruple heart bypass in 2008 to unclog arteries that were up to 97pc blocked.
Despite a prescribed diet of 30 tablets a day, he remained a hugely active figure until recently, not just on the racing scene, but also in business and charity. The Castleblaney-based Shabra Plastics - which he ran with co-founder Rita Shah - is one of the biggest employers in Monaghan. Brady also recently headed a consortium of investors that purchased the Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Course in Enfield, Co Kildare.
His enduring legacy, though, will be especially keenly felt as a result of his charity work. He and Shah set up Shabra Charity five years ago. It funded the building of a school in Kenya that facilitates 125 children, and it has also funded equipment for St Luke's Hospital and the Mater.
He was well-known for taking off his tie and removing his shirt in Superman-style to reveal a Monaghan football jersey before entertaining the hoards that would gather around a winners' enclosure after one of his horses won.
He always said that his exuberant antics were part of his fight to raise awareness for his charity work, and he left race-goers at the Cheltenham Festival in awe when he performed his routine there in 2007.
Baron De Feypo had only finished third in the Coral Cup, but Mr Brady quipped that he didn't know if he would get a better chance to do his thing at the famous March festival. Ebadiyan looked on the verge of doing so in the Triumph Hurdle two years later, only to run out under jockey John Cullennear the finish.
"He was a great man and a great trainer of a horse," Mr Cullen said yesterday of Mr Brady. "I can't really think straight, to be honest. No one has a bad word to say about him. He did lots of work for charity and even when he was very sick the charity was the first thing on his mind."
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive officer for Horse Racing Ireland, also paid tribute: "He was one our most colourful trainers and a favourite with all racegoers.
A minute's silence was held at Listowel yesterday. His funeral Mass will take place tomorrow at 12pm at St Patrick's Church, Ballybay, Co Monaghan.