Horse Racing fraternity mourns as Irish handicapper, Noel O’Brien, passes away

Noel O’Brien, senior National Hunt handicapper for the Irish Turf Club, has died aged 57.

O’Brien was instrumental in setting up the Anglo-Irish Classifications, which allocates handicap marks to British runners in Ireland and vice versa.

He had worked for the Turf Club since leaving school and held the role of senior handicapper since 1995.

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: "It feels like a like a light has gone out in Irish racing.

"Noel was an absolute gentleman who had time for everyone.

"He was passionate about what he did and yet he was very popular in what was often a difficult position in which to keep everybody happy.

"Noel carried out his job with great ease and was a true professional. Everybody respected him.

"Our deepest sympathy is sent out to his family. He was only 57 but he had been in hospital since June."

Former champion jockey Davy Russell was among those to pay tribute, tweeting: "Very sad to hear of the passing of Noel O’Brien, a true gent. RIP."

Fairyhouse Racecourse tweeted: "So sad to hear of the passing of Noel O’Brien on the run up to Christmas. He was a gentleman and was always there to help anyone in this sport. To his family and huge circle of friends, everyone at Fairyhouse sends their deepest sympathy."

- Press Association and digital desk

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