Injury Forces Retirement of Dane O'Neill 

Dane O'Neill with Charlie Hills and Muhaarar | Racingfotos

Group 1-winning jockey Dane O'Neill has announced his retirement from the saddle. The 48-year-old's decision has been hastened by injuries sustained in a race fall last July at Wolverhampton, from which he has still not fully recovered. 

During a career spanning three decades, O'Neill took his first rides in 1992, working for Richard Hannon Sr and later as stable jockey for Henry Candy. In 2012 he was appointed second jockey to Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's Shadwell operation. 

In Sheikh Hamdan's colours he won the inaugural Commonwealth Cup on Muhaarar (GB), while his most recent Group 1 wins came aboard Danyah (Ire) and Alfareeq (Ire) in Dubai. 

“I've given it a good go but unfortunately it is just not healing,” said O'Neill of his fractured T6 vertebra. 

“There's quite a significant gap between the vertebrae and there was damage to the other vertebra as well. It's filled in a little bit, but not enough and it is mainly filled with scar tissue, so it wouldn't take another impact.

“But on a positive note, because I broke seven ribs as well, once I healed and it stabilised, I've never really suffered any pain and I'm leading a normal life, so I've got to be thankful for that.

“I got 32 years out of it, so while it isn't the way I wanted to end it, it's a good chunk of time. I was watching some old races back the other day and there's only John Egan still going now.”

Reflecting on some of the top horse he partnered during that time, O'Neill continued, “I rode Battaash before he got a bit more sensible, I had the early pleasures of him! He was exceptionally fast. I rode some fast horses but he was freakishly fast. In the early days, it was just a case of hang on and set him off in the right direction. Don't fall out with him and you'll win. He was different.

“Winning the first Commonwealth Cup on Muhaarar came at a nice point in my career for Shadwell and that day he came of age, it was nice to give something back to Shadwell and repay that faith. Unfortunately, I didn't get back on him!

“I rode Mostahdaf before he hit the heady heights he went on to achieve but another horse I didn't have a long association with was when Mohaather won the Summer Mile for Marcus (Tregoning).

“He was very good. He was probably the best I rode because when I rode Baaeed he was at a different stage of his career. That day I rode Mohaather, he was exceptional.”

 

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