Tom O’Brien is an Irish jockey who has spent his riding career under rules in the UK, mainly associated with Philip Hobbs, though he has ridden for many other trainers over the years. He’s from the hugely successful horse racing family, the O’Brien family, and actually began his career on horses for two of his uncles.
Born in 1986, it was with his family that things started for O’Brien. He began riding for his uncle Shay Slevin before riding for his other uncle too, Aidan O’Brien. At that point, as a young up-and-coming jockey in the point-to-point industry, he was riding horses such as High Chaparral and Rock Of Gibraltar at home, which must have been something very special for him.
He decided to move away from Ireland, point-to-point racing and his family in 2004, O’Brien would cross over the Irish Sea to the UK and would begin to ride for Philip Hobbs, an association that has been in place for a very long time. The pair never stopped working with each other, and when Richard Johnson retired from race riding in 2021, O’Brien landed the job of being the number one jockey in the yard.
Tom O’Brien Grand National Wins
Tom O’Brien has never won the Grand National.
Their best finish to date was in 2007 with McKelvey who came 2nd.
|2022||Deise Aba||Fence 9 - Pulled Up||-||Philip Hobbs|
|2018||Tenor Nivernais||Fence 26 - Pulled Up||-||Venetia Williams|
|2017||Drop Out Joe||Fence 30 - Pulled Up||-||Charlie Longsdon|
|2016||Onenightinvienna||Fence 22 - Unseated Rider||-||Philip Hobbs|
|2015||Chance Du Roy||10||£1,000||Philip Hobbs|
|2014||Chance Du Roy||6||£13,200||Philip Hobbs|
|2013||Always Waining||10||£975||Peter Bowen|
|2010||Dream Alliance||Fence 24 - Pulled Up||-||Philip Hobbs|
|2009||Zabenz||Fence 16 - Fell||-||Philip Hobbs|
|2008||McKelvey||Fence 20 - Unseated Rider||-||Peter Bowen|
Success in the UK for Tom O’Brien
O’Brien began his first season in the UK by winning the amateur champion title, hitting the ground running. It was a big moment for him, as he had moved away from family ties and was showcasing his skills as a jockey while standing alone rather than working in Ireland with his family. A year after winning the amateur title, he was crowned as a champion conditional jockey in the UK.
Tom rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2009 when he rode a horse named Silk Affair. The pair won the Fred Winter handicap hurdle, as it was known at the time, the juvenile handicap race designed for horses who are not quite good enough to get into the Triumph Hurdle.
2009 was rounded off by another big race success when O’Brien won the Welsh Grand National on Dream Alliance. This horse had a real story about him, and his life was actually turned into a film after his racing days, which brought even more publicity to the win. O’Brien was the man to steer him home that day, much to the delight of the ownership group that took a punt on the horse.
In August 2021, Tom O’Brien passed the 1000 winner mark, a huge achievement and at the time of completing it, only seven other current riders in Great Britain had passed the mark. Nine hundred ninety-nine of the winners came from the UK, while he did ride one in Ireland, the Philip Hobbs trained I Hear A Symphony, who won at the Punchestown Festival in 2008.
As for the Grand National, O’Brien’s best spin was his very first, a race which was back in 2007. He rode McKelvey that day for Peter Bowen, and despite neither horse nor jockey having any Grand National experience, they managed to cross the line in second place.