Owen Brennan: trained more than 300 winnersPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Racing pays tribute to trainer Owen Brennan
POLICE on Thursday night confirmed the body found in the River Derwent in Derby on Wednesday was that of trainer Owen Brennan, who had been missing from his home in the city for more than three weeks that included what would have been his 78th birthday.
Formal identification supported earlier evidence provided by personal effects discovered in the clothing and provided closure for Brennan's wife Pat and family, while at the same time allowing racing to pay tribute to the popular trainer who saddled more than 300 winners.
The cause of death will be determined on Friday, but the police do not believe there were any suspicious circumstances.
Brennan, who suffered a stroke in September that left him prone to memory loss, disappeared on December 17, and his ex-jockey son Martin, now flight transport manager for the Dubai Racing Club, said on Wednesday: "It is just quite nice that the uncertainty is over now and we know where he is and we can move on and get things planned. I would like to say thank you for all the support we have had from people, many we haven't spoken to for year. It's been tremendous."
After retiring in October 2009 following a successful career spanning 40 years, during which he was best known for the multiple winning chasers Speaker Weatherill and Strath Royal who were both owned by his biggest benefactor, the late Lady Anne Bentinck, and Vulrory's Clown, Brennan returned to training in February this year. He had saddled three winners from his new stable at Bretby, 13 miles outside Derby, up until his disappearance.
Two of those successes came at Uttoxeter, whose clerk of the course Charlie Moore said: "Uttoxeter was one of Owen's favourite tracks, and he regularly came with Lady Anne to Nottingham and Market Rasen where I also worked.
"He was always a fun-loving character, even if he was laughing at his own actions and jokes, and it was marvellous that in his 77th year he came back and trained two winners at Uttoxeter. To see him and Pat in the winner's enclosure afterwards was wonderful.
"He always had a mischievous grin and was a joy to see and he will be much missed. A number of people asked me, be they trainers, racegoers, annual members, what I knew about
Owen's whereabouts at our New Year's Eve meeting. The family would have been touched that there was so much concern."
On the day of his disappearance, Brennan and his wife had dropped off Christmas presents at the Derbyshire stable of trainer Chris Kellett, who said: "Over the last couple of years we had become real good friends, and he was most lovely fellow you could ever meet. When I started out training he was always available to give advice and I learned a lot from him."
Nottinghamshire-based trainer Michael Appleby, whose first job in racing was with Brennan, said: "We always chatted when we met each other at the races. Owen was a really hard-working and lovely bloke."
Lincolnshire trainer Steve Gollings said: "Owen was a colleague and a friend and I am just pleased they have found him for his family's sake. Our condolences go out to them. It is very sad."