The Dublin-born jockey has been Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s second jockey since 2012 – first to Paul Hanagan and, in more recent years, Jim Crowley.
The alliance led to him partnering Muhaarar to success in the inaugural running of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot in 2015 when Hanagan rejected him for another Sheikh Hamdan runner.
It was O’Neill’s first domestic Group 1 triumph and Muhaarar would go on to be crowned champion sprinter.
O’Neill was brought up in Monkston, County Cork. His family has always had ties in racing.
As a schoolboy he was a talented showjumper and rode 24 winners in pony races. At the age of 17, he moved to Britain to work for trainer Richard Hannon, who provided his first winner, Port Sunlight, at Sandown Park on July 15, 1993.
After notching just seven winners in his first three seasons, O’Neill’s career took off in 1996 when his total of 67 successes brought him the apprentice jockeys’ championship.
Three years later he won the Cork and Orrery Stakes at Royal Ascot aboard Bold Edge and the following year he landed the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville on the same horse. It was his first Group 1 triumph.
Heading into the 2021 season, the 45-year-old has ridden 1,783 winners in Britain. His best year was in 2008 when he enjoyed 109 winners.