Wednesday 12 December 2018

Tributes flow in for legend Noel O'Brien

The late Noel O’Brien pictured at Leopardstown back in March 2014. Pic: Patrick McCann
The late Noel O’Brien pictured at Leopardstown back in March 2014. Pic: Patrick McCann

Tributes continue to pour in for senior Turf Club handicapper Noel O'Brien after one of racing's most popular figures lost his battle with illness in the early hours of yesterday morning.

O'Brien, who was 57, had been battling cancer but suffered complications during his recovery and sadly passed away peacefully in St James's Hospital surrounded by his family.

O'Brien was widely recognised as one of the best handicapper's in world and the volume of tributes that were paid to him yesterday showed just how popular the Kildare native was and his loss with certainly leave a void in Irish racing.

Horse Racing Ireland's chief executive said: "A light went out in Irish racing overnight with the passing of Noel O'Brien.

"A gentleman who always had time for people. Popular in a job where that is not easy. Passionate about National Hunt racing. A huge loss to his family, to racing and to his wide circle of friends."

O'Brien joined the Turf Club straight from school and initially worked in the accounts department before taking over as Senior National Hunt handicapper in 1995.

Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan said: "We are devastated by the news. It is heartbreaking for us all but particularly for Noel's family.

"He fought a long and brave battle with the strength, courage and good humour that he brought to everything he did. He was a very special person, kind and generous. He was never in bad form and always looked on the bright side."

Trainer Gordon Elliott described O'Brien as "an absolute gentleman" and that sentiment was echoed throughout the industry.

Ruby Walsh added: "Noel did an extremely difficult job very well."

The champion jockey continued: "He was an absolute gentleman and a great man to socialise with. He was a wonderful man to discuss ratings and form with."

There is no doubt that the loss of Noel O'Brien will leave a massive void in Irish racing and with his very wide circle of friends.

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