Who is Philip Hobbs’ stable jockey?
Following the shock retirement of his predecessor, four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson, at Newton Abbott on April 3, 2021, Tom O’Brien has been stable jockey to Philip Hobbs. Born in Wexford on November 28, 1986, O’Brien – who is the nephew of Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien – originally joined Hobbs’ Sandhill Racing Stables in Bilbrook, near Minehead, Somerset as a stable lad in 2004. He left Ireland because of his frustration with the lack of opportunity in his native land, but wasted little time in making an impression in Britain. He became champion amateur jockey in his first full season and, having turned professional, became champion conditional jockey in 2006/07.
Indeed, the 2006/07 season, during which he rode 105 winners, was his most successful, numerically, so far. Having played ‘second fiddle’ to Richard Johnson for much of his career, he has not really come close to that figure since although, to his credit, he has ridden over 50 winners in ten of his 14 completed seasons with Philip Hobbs. On August 22, 2021, O’Brien took his career tally to 1,000 winners in Britain and Ireland, with victory on Heads Up, trained by Ian Williams, in a handicap chase at Worcester making him one of just seven active jockeys to reach that milestone.
Despite limited opportunities at the highest level, O’Brien has four Grade 1 winners to his name; he won the Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury on Souffleur, trained by Peter Bowen, in 2007, the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown on Finian’s Oscar and Elixir De Nutz, both trained by Colin Tizzard, in 2017 and 2019, respectively and, most recently, the Liverpool Hurdle on Thyme Hill, trained by Hobbs, in 2021.