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Ballabriggs (Jason Maguire) wins the Grand National Aintree 9.4.11

The Flathouse Stud bought Ballabriggs and Oscar Time

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Ned Byrne, pinhooker of National one-two, dies

NED BYRNE, who pinhooked John Smith’s Grand National first and second Ballabriggs and Oscar Time, died on Sunday morning, having suffered from cancer for two and a half years. He was 54.

Described as a “great horseman, sportsman and friend”, Byrne spent the last 20 years as a yard manager at Darley’s Woodpark Stud in Dunboyne, County Meath, and worked with general manager John Brady to acquire Ballabriggs and Oscar Time as foals under The Flathouse Stud banner.

Brady yesterday told how his business partner and friend slipped into a coma in Bon Secours Hospital in Glasnevin, Dublin on Saturday, hours before the Grand National.

He said: “He didn’t see it, but I’m sure he heard it. We feel he may have been waiting for it.

“We had been pinhooking together for 15 years and those two were the best National Hunt horses we found, but he also picked Queen Mary winner Flashy Wings and Gallagher, who was Group 1-class as a two-year-old but unfortunately didn’t train on. He’d such a good eye for a horse and enjoyed life to the full.”

Herecomesthet ruth and Christie’s Foxhunter winner Zemsky were others to come through their hands and the Flathouse Syndicate gave him his last winner in Cercle Des Amis, who won a point-to-point in January for Joseph Murphy.

The trainer said: “He was a super horseman, a great sportsman and a longtime friend. We used to spot horses, together with Denis Cummins and John Brady, at the sales.

“We’d always compare notes and many people would ask Ned’s opinion of a horse before bidding on it. He was widely respected and will be hugely missed.”

Hailing from Rathturtin, near Clonroche in County Wexford, Byrne was a successful point-to-point rider before joining Brady,
and his brother Tom believes Byrne’s style is mirrored by his nephew Tom O’Brien. He added: “We’re all heavyboned, but somehow Ned kept his weight right for riding for ten years. He could get the wildest horses calm in three weeks. He looked after them far better than himself, that’s for sure. We’re sad to have lost him but the way he has suffered recently made it more a relief than anything else.”

O’Brien said: “My uncle was always a great help to me, particularly when I was a youngster with my ponies. He’d had cancer for some while and put up a great fight. It’s very sad he’s no longer with us and he’ll be greatly missed.”

Winner of three county hurling medals with Kildare club Ardclough, Byrne is survived by wife Anne, daughters Mairead and Sharon, and son Dermot.




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