Michael O’Brien, America’s champion steeplechase jockey in 1972 and a successful jumps trainer in his native Ireland, died Dec. 23 at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin. He was 68.
O’Brien rode principally for Jonathan Sheppard in 1972 and led the sport with 17 victories over fences and four on the flat.
He was paralyzed in a fall in early 1974 and was confined to a wheelchair. While his brother and fellow steeplechase jockey Leo O’Brien remained in the United States and trained in New York, Michael O’Brien returned to Ireland to train.
He sent out Bright Highway to win the 1980 Mackeson Gold Cup and Hennessy Gold Cup, and he won the Irish Grand National three times. He retired two years ago and had been in poor health for some time.
A funeral mass was held Dec. 27 near his home in Nass, County Kildare.