Great Bets

Helping You Find Your Next Bet

Paddy Brennan Bows Out on a High: Group 1 Winning Jockey Retires

As expected, Cheltenham’s final fixture of the 2023/24 campaign was lit up by a series of quality performances on the track. However, racegoers may not have anticipated that the 2024 edition of the two-day fixture would provide the chance to pay tribute to one of the most popular riders of the modern era.

Following his win aboard the aptly named Manothepeople, Paddy Brennan raised his arm to the heavens before returning to a rapturous reception in the crowded Winner’s Enclosure. Not just another win to add to his 1500+ tally, as Brennan confirmed in the aftermath that the victory in the 3m2f Handicap Chase represented the final ride of his illustrious career. Here, we look back at the career of a rider who ascended from the Irish flat racing scene to reach the summit of the jumping game.

Too Heavy for the Flat but Just Right for Jumps

A keen sportsman as a youngster, Ardrahan native Brennan counted Gaelic sports amongst his pursuits but, having fallen in love with riding whilst out hunting on his pony, opted to pursue a career as a flat jockey. Taking up residence at the Classic-winning yard of Jim Bolger, Brennan picked up a first success aboard Ivory Isle at Gowran Park in August of 1998.

Seven further flat victories followed between 1998 and 2000, but making the low weights required to ride on the flat was becoming a major hurdle. Never one to give up, Brennan opted to have a go over hurdles himself and made the trip across the Irish Sea to join the Paul Nicholls operation – a move which would set him on the path to a stunning career.

Much Travelled Rider

Following his stay at Ditcheat, Brennan enjoyed stints at the yards of Philip Hobbs, Howard Johnson, Nigel Twiston-Davies, and, latterly, Twiston-Davies’s former right-hand man, Fergal O’Brien. Riding the first winner for the emerging O’Brien yard in 2011, the affable trainer would go on to provide Brennan with almost 500 winning riders – more than any other trainer. Fittingly, Brennan’s final career ride came aboard an O’Brien-trained runner.

Success on the Biggest Stage

When all was said and done, Brennan retired with a tally of 1,516 jump wins, in addition to nine on the flat. Winning the conditional jockeys title in 2004/05 with 67 wins, Brennan went on to pick up 50 or more victories in each of the subsequent 18 seasons. Included in that impressive total were wins in many of the biggest races of all – selected highlights including:

  • 2007 Stayers Hurdle – Inglis Drever
  • 2009 Ryanair Chase – Imperial Commander
  • 2009 Scottish Grand National – Hello Bud
  • 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup – Imperial Commander
  • 2015 King George VI Chase – Cue Card

Brennan lists that 2015 King George success aboard Cue Card – who also took him to wins in the Betfair Chase, Ascot Chase, and Aintree Bowl – as his career highlight. But one of his most iconic moments came when shushing the Denman- and Kauto Star-obsessed crowd, having conquered the two titans in the 2010 Gold Cup.

Alliance with O’Brien To Continue?

Having departed the weighing room for the final time, fans will be wondering what lies in the future of the popular 43-year-old. Only Brennan knows the answer, but Fergal O’Brien offered a small hint when stating, “That’s not the end of Paddy Brennan and Fergal O’Brien. It could be the start of something else…”