Joseph O’Brien quits riding after ruling Aspen Colorado out of Cheltenham

Dual Irish champion Flat jockey Joseph O’Brien has decided not to ride at all this year and to concentrate on his new role as a trainer.

Joseph O’Brien quits riding after ruling Aspen Colorado out of Cheltenham

The move had been widely expected as the record-breaking jockey had been turning his attentions more to the training side and is in the process of taking out a full licence.

O’Brien, 22, has been playing a key role in helping his father, trainer Aidan O’Brien, with a large string of horses recently, including JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Ivanovich Gorbatov, from a base at Piltown, County Kilkenny, where the great Istabraq’s triumphs were originally masterminded.

Tall for a Flat jockey, O’Brien was always likely to find his battle with the scales proving too much over a period of time, but is looking to gain his training licence shortly to have runners under Rules and saddled his first point-to-point winner at the beginning of November.

“It’s hard enough to make a decent job of one thing never mind trying to juggle two things so I’ll be concentrating on training and won’t be riding any more,” O’Brien told the Racing Post.

O’Brien can number an array of top Flat horses such as Camelot, St Nicholas Abbey, Australia and many others on his riding CV, twice winning the Derby at Epsom.

His first Classic success came on Roderic O’Connor in the 2011 running of the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh, and he is hopeful of further big-race glory when he oversees Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Istabraq colours of JP McManus at Cheltenham next week.

News that O’Brien’s career in the saddle came just hours after he had revealed that leading Weatherbys Champion Bumper contender Aspen Colorado will not run at Cheltenham.

O’Brien tweeted: “I spoke with JP (McManus) and Frank (Berry, racing manager) this morning, Aspen Colorado will not go to Cheltenham and the plan is to go to Limerick on April 3.”

Meanwhile, Gavin Cromwell is slightly favouring a crack at the JCB Triumph Hurdle with Jer’s Girl.

The four-year-old also holds entries in the Fred Winter and the inaugural Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and is much shorter in the betting for those two races.

However, Cromwell feels the Triumph picture has been so muddled all year it could be ripe for a shock.

“I won’t make my decision until closer to the time and we’ll see what the ground is like, we’re keeping our options open,” he said.

“She’s on 11st 1lbs in the Fred Winter at the minute but that could easily go up five or six pounds.

“Either way, you’ve no idea what you’re taking on in the Fred Winter.

“There are those horses from France that haven’t run in England but have been given a mark and their trainers seem to think they are well treated.

“Then with the mares’ race you’ve got Limini, who is odds-on, so we wouldn’t be too keen to take her on.

“So then you’re back at the Triumph and it’s a very muddled picture.

“Ivanovich Gorbatov is 3-1 favourite and we finished upsides him the last day yet we’re nearly 50-1, I think.

“I worked her on decent ground for just about the first time the other day and she handled it all right.

“So at the moment if I was to rank them I would say Triumph most likely, then Fred Winter and then the mares’ race. Given all the juveniles keep beating each other it could be a year for a shock.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Lynch is set to see a specialist today to assess the injury to his shoulder following a fall at Naas on Sunday.

X-rays revealed no fracture following his tumble from Theophilus at the second-last flight in the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle. However, there is some soft tissue damage.

  • Thursday’s meeting at Limerick must pass an 8am course inspection tomorrow morning.

The fixture is being staged on the inside course, and the racing line on that track is currently unraceable.

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