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"When I see it happening, I always cringe" | Donnacha O'Brien on the apprentice jockeys who "sit on heels" in races

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

18:43 29 Nov 2019

Donnacha O'Brien says the in-race approach of some apprentice jockeys makes him "cringe".

The 21-year-old who is stepping away from life as a jockey to become a trainer joined us on Friday Night Racing.

One thing he discussed was that decision. But he also relayed the impactful nature of a bad fall he once experienced.

"I got a bad fall on my third ride around Wexford and that really dented my confidence for a good while," he said.

"It took me a while to get over that mentally more than anything."

"What happened was I clipped a heel and then I went down. And you don't realise how hard that grounds hits you until it really does.

"For probably a few months after that, I didn't want to be anywhere near heels in any race."

Everywhere Hurts

He also detailed what it feels like to be caught up in such a moment.

"When you clip a heel, you hit the ground before you know what's happening," he said.

"And it hits you hard. You don't know what's happened. Before you know it, you're sitting on the ground. Everywhere hurts. And if you hit your head, you're probably going to be confused as well.

"But people don't realise how hard that ground hits you when it comes at you."

However, as he also pointed out, some apprentice jockeys position their horses too close to the heels of the horses ahead of them.

"I think it was a valuable lesson learned [for me]," he said.

"You can clip heels in a lot of races and you can hear a horse clipping a heel in front of you. But it's only when the horse's foot is going forward and meets a horse's hind heel coming back that causes a horse to fall.

"Some apprentices, they could sit on heels for a lot of races and get away with it. When I see it happening, I always cringe because they don't realise the danger. Sometimes it just takes a fall to make people cop on."

You can watch the full chat below via our YouTube channel: 


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