11/07/2003 12:00AM

Kinane leaving O'Brien

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Michael Kinane has resigned as the rider for Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle yard to continue his riding career as a freelancer. The announcement, made on Friday afternoon, was to take effect on Saturday.

Kinane, a 43-year-old Irishman, thus ends a five-year association with O'Brien and his major owners, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor. During that time Kinane rode O'Brien-trained champions Rock of Gibraltar, Giant's Causeway, Galileo, Hawk Wing, Stravinsky, Johannesburg, Minardi, and Fasliyev. Two weeks ago he rode High Chaparral to a second successive victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Kinane's status at Ballydoyle had been the subject of speculation since June, with reports that there was friction between Kinane and O'Brien as well as between Kinane and Susan Magnier, the wife of Coolmoore Farm owner John Magnier. A run of bad luck at Ballydoyle this season did not end until the return to action of High Chaparral in August, although Kinane had ridden Yesterday to a nose victory over Six Perfections in the Irish 1000 Guineas on May 25.

After a long and productive association with Dermot Weld, Kinane took over as O'Brien's first-string rider in 1999. No announcement about a replacement for Kinane was made, but among those in line for the job are Jamie Spencer, a British-based Irishman who has ridden frequently for O'Brien in recent years.