Sunday 8 December 2019

Joseph O'Brien confident weight issues will not detract him

Jockey Joseph O'Brien
Jockey Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O'Brien admits it is impossible to predict how long his career in the saddle will last.

Backed by the might of father Aidan's formidable Ballydoyle juggernaut, O'Brien has been champion jockey in Ireland for the past two seasons.

However, as one of the taller jockeys in the weighing room, he does not ride below 9st and acknowledges his weight may eventually get the better of him.

"I'll ride as long as I can, whether it's another year or 10 years I don't know," O'Brien said. "My weight is pretty much the same as it has been the last couple of years. I keep fit and healthy – I don't do less than 9st and try and kill myself.

"Realistically I'm not going to ride until I'm 50 but hopefully I can get another couple of years. I'll keep going as long as I can."

O'Brien will soon have more competition for rides from within his own family. Joseph's sisters, Sarah and Anna, have already had a taste of racecourse action and his younger brother, Donnacha, will receive his riding licence in the near future.

Ireland's reigning champion jockey added: "Donnacha is well able to ride and I might have to give up when he starts as he's a better rider than I am.

"He's been riding work as long as I have. He gives me plenty of stick and he'll get plenty when he starts riding."

Meanwhile, True Story will put his big reputation on the line in Thursday's Betfred Dante Stakes at York – as long as the ground is suitable.

Godolphin's big Derby hope shot to prominence in the Epsom Classic betting when slamming his rivals in the Feilden Stakes at Newmarket, where all three of his outings have been to date. He has been kept in the news after Saeed bin Suroor announced Kieren Fallon as rider at York and in the Derby.

However, Bin Suroor declared that True Story will only run if the ground is deemed suitable. The same stipulation has also been issued against Arod.

It must say a lot about the regard in which trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam holds Arod in that he feels the Teofilo colt is up to competing at this level after winning a Windsor maiden last month.

Richard Hannon has always held Bunker in high regard and Frankie Dettori's mount beat subsequent French Guineas winner Karakontie in a Listed race last season.

James Given's Odeon won a Redcar maiden by a wide margin to book his spot, while Kevin Ryan will try to keep the prize in Yorkshire with The Grey Gatsby, second in the Craven Stakes to Toormore but unplaced in the Guineas. The six-runner field is completed by James Fanshawe's maiden Saab Almanal.

Elsewhere, Megan Nicholls, daughter of champion trainer Paul, rode her first winner under Rules at Wincanton as Gwanako cruised to success.

Having ridden several winners in point-to-points, including on Gwanako, the youngster was elated when she crossed the line on the 11-year-old.

The winning distance in the Wessex Area Lady Riders' Series Final Hunters' Chase was three lengths, with Master Medic back in second. Gwanako won the Topham Chase at Aintree as a five-year-old in 2008 and is now trained by Rose Loxton, who works at Nicholls' yard.

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