” title=”Constitution Hill and Sean O’Briain on the sand ring at Seven Barrows”
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Constitution Hill and Sean O’Briain on the sand ring at Seven Barrows
By James Burn, Lambourn correspondent
Conditional jockey Sean O’Briain hopes to follow a similar path to Nico de Boinville, whose association with Sprinter Sacre as work-rider gave him a springboard to a fine career in the saddle.
O’Briain is the lucky man who daily rides out the rocket that is Constitution Hill, the outstanding winner of last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle who threatens to light up the winter months.
As the regular partner of Constitution Hill, 7-4 favourite for the Unibet Champion Hurdle, the conditional is likely to be the envy of many in the sport.
“When you walk and trot on him, it’s like you’re sitting on one horse and when you do a canter or gallop it’s like being on a different horse,” he said.
“He’s a weird creature and I mean that in the nicest way. I used to ride Riders Onthe Storm, who won a Grade 1 and the Old Roan at Aintree on Sunday, and Road To Respect, who won two Champion Chases at Down Royal and the Christmas Chase, as a youngster, but I’ve never sat on anything like Constitution Hill.
“I wouldn’t be afraid to say that I don’t think I ever will again. I begged to stay on him and got lucky.”
title=”Constitution Hill is led through the barn by Sean O’Briain at Seven Barrows”
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Constitution Hill is led through the barn by Sean O’Briain at Seven Barrows
The 23-year-old rider, who lives in Hungerford, has been based at Nicky Henderson’s Seven Barrows yard for 18 months.
O’Briain’s mother rode as a child and guided him down that path, so he started at a riding school run by the parents of Barry Geraghty, the former Henderson stable jockey who prepared Constitution Hill in his youth.
Winning pointer Some Run was the first racehorse O’Briain sat on before spells with Ado McGuinness and John Oxx, where he crossed paths with jockey Mick Kinane.
“Too stubborn” to ride on the Flat, he went to Noel Meade’s and worked for Nigel Twiston-Davies before his role with Henderson.
O’Briain said: “I rode in Ireland and then came over here, but the boss was always pushing me to get my licence again.
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Nicky Henderson: issues instructions to Sean O’Briain on Constitution Hill
“I was going to pack in altogether last year, but had a conversation with Nicky and thought I’d give it a crack because I’d be kicking myself in a few years if I didn’t.
“I had my first ride for Nicky in April and have had a handful more since, but I’m just waiting on the horses to start running and things to get busy, which I’m sure they will when we get some rain.
“It’s brilliant at Seven Barrows. Just one morning recently I was schooling babies with Nico, who was constantly helping me.”
Henderson’s former assistant Billy Aprahamian is now training and O’Briain has schooled at his Towcester stable, so that is a link he could explore for opportunities.
“I’m not expecting much from him because I’m a 10lb claimer, but you never know,” he said. “It’s about building connections and I’ve waited this long, so it would be stupid to panic when things are starting to look up.”
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