O'Donoghue offers O'Brien a ready solution

For a perfectionist, there can never be a perfect solution. And if that is how Aidan O'Brien came to find himself in his present predicament, then it may also show him the best way out.

Johnny Murtagh would not be the first Ballydoyle stable jockey to have decided that the rewards accompanying the post, considerable as they are, do not match the cumulative pressures. And at least one of the more feasible candidates to succeed Murtagh, who announced his departure on Monday, has confided that he would be too wary of O'Brien's exacting standards to accept any approach. Another, Pat Smullen, yesterday reiterated his commitment to Dermot Weld, while issues of temperament or relevant experience dilute the claims of several others. There is only one way to guarantee that O'Brien and his next stable jockey can both be happy in their working relationship – and that is not to bring in a new rider at all.

Colm O'Donoghue has become an increasingly significant contributor at Ballydoyle, quietly establishing himself as eligible for any task in Murtagh's absence. Over the past couple of years, he has certainly overtaken Seamus Heffernan in the pecking order, for instance when replacing the suspended Murtagh on Cape Blanco at Ascot in July – when a number of other top-class jockeys, not least a former Ballydoyle man in Kieren Fallon, were available.

O'Donoghue is both familiar and comfortable with O'Brien's priorities and methods, and has won his opportunities by diligence at Ballydoyle and good judgement on the racecourse. He admittedly lacks experience in the international crucibles, but has won a Classic round the notoriously difficult track at Longchamp and last month produced a top-class ride to steal the Canadian International on Joshua Tree from under the noses of his rivals. Here is a rider clearly entering his prime.

There would be no offended grumbling, either, should O'Brien continue to give opportunities to his son. Joseph O'Brien is an authentic talent, but his bloom is likely to prove brief on account of his physique. Given greater responsibility, both could flourish together.

O'Brien's own employers, moreover, will presumably be impatient for some continuity. Michael Kinane stayed at Ballydoyle for six years. In the six since he left, John Magnier and his partners in Coolmore have hired Jamie Spencer, who left after one, painfully unhappy season; Kieren Fallon, who eventually came to seem more trouble than even he was worth; and Murtagh, who had seemed to restore stability to the role with three consistently successful seasons.

Magnier and his confederates might prefer a marquee name, more obviously commensurate with the Coolmore-Ballydoyle brand. But those with superior éclat to O'Donoghue would also bring more risk. Christophe Soumillon has the requisite flair, but what sort of chemistry might so volatile a character achieve with O'Brien? Soumillon has signed a retainer to ride for the Wildensteins, in France, and it is hard to picture him riding one in a nursery at Ballinrobe.

William Buick has coped so coolly with his first big chance that he might conceivably be fast-tracked again, but knows that his development for now could be no more sagely managed than by John Gosden. Fallon would seem to have burnt his boats. There would only be one more sensational signing than Fallon, in fact, and that would be one of the top American riders – among whom Julien Leparoux would seem the most adaptable to turf. In itself, his arrival would automatically refresh Coolmore's stature as a giant of the global industry. In reality, however, he probably has far too much to lose.

What all these alternatives have in common is risk. Promoting O'Donoghue, however, would seem to offer just one danger – that he simply might not make the grade as No 1. The odds are, however, that he would cut the mustard. And given that his relationship with O'Brien is tried and tested, rather than trying or testy, this relatively small risk might prove well worth taking.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Tower (6.20 Kempton) Set plenty to do when given a sharper test at Wolverhampton last week, but strong finish for third confirmed him to be flourishing now, having narrowly scored a first success over this course and distance last month.

Next best

Doctor Hilary (7.50 Kempton) Faded into midfield on his return from a break at Windsor last time after contesting an excessive pace, but useful in his prime and looks as though he retains the ability to exploit this kind of rating.

One to watch

Final Drive (J Ryan) Has shared a quiet season with much of his stable but looked ready to exploit a diminished mark when placed on consecutive days last week, finishing fast over 8f and then just run down late over 10f.

Where the money's going

The Sawyer is 20-1 from 33-1 with the sponsors for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home