Dunguib jockey Brian O'Connell retires due to ongoing shoulder problem
Seven-time Grade 1-winning rider Brian O'Connell has been forced to retire due to ongoing problems with his right shoulder.
The 31-year-old enjoyed top-level success on Dunguib, whom he rode to victory in the Champion Bumper at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival. He also partnered Dunguib to Grade 1 wins in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle and Deloitte Novice Hurdle.
He also rode Last Instalment, trained like Dunguib by Philip Fenton, to three Grade 1 triumphs, in the Fort Leney Novice Chase, the Dr P J Moriarty Novice Chase and the Irish Hennessy – all at Leopardstown – and also rode Don Cossack to victory in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown in 2014.
O'Connell said: "I had been hoping to keep on riding for another few years but I've had problems with my shoulder since having a fall in October and I had to have surgery to try and reattach ligaments and tendons. I haven't ridden since.
"After discussing my situation with Dr Adrian McGoldrick [IHRB chief medical officer] and my consultant it was agreed that I should retire."
Dr McGoldrick said: "Brian had to have major surgery on his shoulder. He had four different procedures and while he has recovered to a degree it hasn't been enough for him to continue riding."
Looking back on his career O'Connell said: "I rode over 250 winners, and 32 winners in 2014/2015 was my best season. I was very lucky to win seven Grade 1s and I think I had a total of 20 graded-race wins.
"Riding Dunguib to his ten-length win in the Cheltenham Festival bumper and my Irish Hennessy win on Last Instalment were the highlights of my career.
"I started with Philip and enjoyed plenty of success with him and I really appreciate the support I got from all the other trainers and owners I rode for."
O'Connell added: "I hope to stay in the industry. I've always had an interest in the bloodstock side of things and will be looking at any opportunities that may arise. We have a yard at home which we might try to develop."
Three of his best
Dunguib was very much the Samcro of his generation as he fit the 'could be anything' bracket perfectly after destroying his 2009 Champion Bumper rivals at Cheltenham in the hands of O'Connell.
Seldom has the Champion Bumper been won in such emphatic fashion, and after which, it was even rumored that connections declined an offer €1m for the potential superstar.
Despite going on to win two Grade One novice hurdles, Dunguib didn't quite reach the heights that were once expected, but that breathtaking Champion Bumper performance, O'Connell's only victory at the festival, will live long in the memory.
Two of O'Connell's six Grade One victories were achieved aboard Last Installment.
After Davy Russell opted to ride Gigginstown’s apparent number one, First Lieutenant, in the 2011 Grade 1 Fort Leney Chase at Leopardstown, Last Installment came through to confirm himself as one of the most exciting staying novices in the country with a six-length triumph over his better-fancied rival.
Last Installment went on to enjoy his greatest day on a racecourse when winning the 2014 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown, again under O’Connell.
Having just returned from almost two years on the sidelines, Last Installment was again overlooked by Gigginstown’s first choice jockey, with Bryan Cooper this time opting to ride First Lieutenant in the race.
O'Connell guided his charge to a comfortable victory over the Paul Nicholls-trained Tidal Bay, with First Lieutenant back in third, but never raced again after unseating in the Gold Cup later that season.
O'Connell also rode Don Cossack to victory before he became rockstar famous.
That win was achieved in the 2014 Grade 1 John Durkan Chase at Punchestown, with Elliott's charge going on to win the following season's Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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