Fergal O'Brien delays decision on new stable jockey with replacements drafted in for Paddy Brennan's weekend rides

Fergal O'Brien: will decide riding plans next month
Fergal O'Brien: will decide riding plans next monthCredit: Edward Whitaker (

Fergal O'Brien will delay a decision on his replacement stable jockey for the retired Paddy Brennan until the new season.

The trainer said jockey bookings will be led by owners until the end of the month, when the campaign concludes at Sandown on April 27. 

But he has already replaced Brennan's booked rides with Jonathan Burke to partner the yard's Coral Scottish Grand National hope Autonomous Cloud. Connor Brace stepped in aboard Shelikesthelights at Cheltenham on Thursday and will ride Young Buster at Ayr on Saturday.

Brennan has been a crucial part of O'Brien's growing yard, riding his first runner in 2011 and breakthrough Grade 1 winner Poetic Rhythm in the 2017 Challow Novices' Hurdle. Together they notched 465 winners, more than half of O'Brien's total, ahead of Brace (88), Liam Harrison (66) and Jack Hogan (32), who are all a key part of the trainer's future plans.

O'Brien said: "Our thinking is to leave things to the owners for the rest of the season and give them the choice of jockey. Hopefully we'll get something sorted out for next season. As it stands the owners will have the option.

"We've had lots of questions about what we'd do after Paddy but out of respect for him we didn't want to make any plans. He was still riding and it was never a certainty he was going to give up on Wednesday. From our point of view it was going to be the end of the season but Wednesday was the perfect opportunity so we hadn't put anything in place.

"We've got Connor, Liam Harrison and Jack Hogan in and they're all there and Tom Broughton rode a winner for us at Cheltenham on Wednesday so we're not short of good jockeys. It's been put on the backburner. We'll get to Sandown then we've got a week with no runners so we can sit down and go from there."

Brennan, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010 on Imperial Commander, ended his career on a winning high on Wednesday and named Cue Card's 2015 King George victory as one of the best among his 1,500-plus winners.

Cue Card: Paddy Brennan won six races on the Colin Tizzard-trained chaser
Cue Card: Paddy Brennan won six races on the Colin Tizzard-trained chaserCredit: Edward Whitaker

Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard hailed the jockey for "igniting" his stable legend.

"They gelled together and they were brilliant," he said. "When Paddy got on Cue Card I wondered if he was a young horse who was waning a bit but Paddy ignited something in him in way that only Paddy could. It was a master decision from the Bishops [owners] to choose Paddy and the rest is history.

"For a few seasons they were pretty much unbeatable which was great. It was a lovely time although Paddy will always bring up the Gold Cup as the one that got away. Paddy took the hammer for it but the horse fell at the same fence the next year though. I was always just glad to see them get up.

"Because of those two seasons Paddy has become a very big part of the horse's life and my life. It was an amazing time. We've had some great horses but we'd do well to ever find another like Cue Card."

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James StevensWest Country correspondent