Joseph O’Brien has achieved more in racing at the age of 24 that most could dream of achieving in a lifetime, yet the remarkable thing is that he is only just getting started.
As a jockey, he rode 30 Group 1 winners including two renewals of the Derby at Epsom before the inevitable day came where his lengthy frame made it impractical for him to make the weight required to ride on the Flat.
While he was still just 22 years old when that day came, Joseph had already been playing a major role as a trainer under his father Aidan O’Brien’s name on the family farm in Owning, with him being given all the credit for the success of Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.
Having been granted his own licence to train in June 2016, O’Brien made the perfect start by saddling four winners on his first day with runners and he hasn’t looked back since. He reached a notable milestone in September when saddling his first Group 1 winner as a trainer by saddling Intricately to win the Moyglare Stud Stakes and that is likely to be the first of many top-level successes under both codes.
With Intricately and Rekindling leading the way with his Classic contenders and him having a promising team of juveniles to go to war with in 2017, Joseph sat down withKevin Blake of attheraces.com to discuss his Flat team, several of which are set to appear at the Curragh this weekend.
6 b g Galileo – Ice Queen
Rated 93, he made an encouraging return to the Flat when a never-nearer third in a valuable handicap at the Curragh in May.
“He ran well at the Curragh in what was his first start on the Flat for us. He was balloted out of a couple of handicaps at Royal Ascot and he might be one to go for Glorious Goodwood or Galway. He is likely to go back over hurdles at some stage too.”
4 b c Fastnet Rock – Small Sacrifice
Rated 97, he has steadily progressed up the handicap ranks, winning four times, most recently at Dundalk in December.
“He needs good ground and a fast pace to run at. When he gets those circumstances, I think he can be competitive off his mark. I don’t think he’ll be one for hurdling, but you never know.”
4 ch c Galileo – Pipalong
Rated 102, he won two of his four starts last season including a handicap at the Galway Festival by a remarkable 17 lengths. His best run this season was when third in the Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown.
“He didn’t seem to get the trip in the Queen Alexandra at Royal Ascot. Two miles with an ease in the ground might be his best conditions. He could be one that drops back into a valuable handicap at some stage.”
4 b g Cape Cross – Incitatus Girl
Awarded the race having finished second on his debut in a maiden at the Curragh in June.
“He ran very well at the Curragh first time out and we think he could be a nice horse when he steps up in trip. We’ll probably aim low with him for now and will look for a conditions race for him. He handles an ease in the ground, but he’s a good-moving horse so he should be OK on good ground.”
4 ch c Pivotal – Golden Shadow
Rated 102, he won a maiden at the Curragh last year and has shown improvement in recent starts, finishing third in a Listed race at the Curragh in June.
“He ran well in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and seemed to run to that level again in a Listed race back up there. A mile-and-a-quarter and an ease in the ground is what he wants and we think he can win a stakes race.”
6 b g Montjeu – Hula Angel
Rated 94 on the Flat and 138 over hurdles, he won a handicap at the Curragh in great style in June.
“He won well at the Curragh and is entered over a shorter trip back up there this weekend. We’ll keep him going in handicaps and he could well go back over hurdles too. He ran well at Galway last year, so going back there will be an option for him.”
3 b c Requinto – Primeshade Promise
Rated 83, he won a maiden at Dundalk in December.
“He did well on the all-weather at Dundalk during the winter and has had a good break since then. He’s entered at the Curragh at the weekend, but the ground will probably be too slow for him so he might not run. He’ll campaign over five and six furlongs on good or better ground.”
3 b f Fastnet Rock – Inner Realm
Rated 107, she won the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh by a short-head in September and ran her best race this season when fourth to Winter in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
“She’ll run in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh on Sunday and we are hopeful that a mile-and-a-quarter might be her best trip. She ran well in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and has probably run close to her mark in two of her three runs this year, as she ties in very closely with Hydrangea from last year and has finished close to her twice this season. It was good to see Roly Poly and Hydrangea come out and run very well at Royal Ascot to advertise the Irish 1,000 Guineas form.”
3 b c High Chaparral – Sitara
Rated 109, he won a maiden at Gowran Park for David Wachman last season and made a winning start for O’Brien when winning the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown in April. He went on to finish fourth in the Dante and was well held in the Derby.
“He was a bit disappointing in the Derby, but he just didn’t handle the track at all. He’ll run in the Curragh Cup at the weekend and we think the longer trip is what he wants. I would be happy to give him another go on good ground, but a little ease in it suits him well.”
2 b f Power – Amenixa
Made it fourth-time lucky when winning a maiden at Limerick in June.
“She took a couple of runs to get the hang of things, but she won her maiden at Limerick in good enough style. She will probably step into nurseries when they start and a mile on nice ground is what she wants.”
2 b c Holy Roman Emperor – Shell Garland
Made a very promising debut when second to Commander Grigio at the Curragh, but proved a bit disappointing when only fourth back at that track on his only subsequent start.
“He ran very well at the Curragh first time out, but the ground was just too soft for him back at the Curragh on his next start. He’ll go for a seven-furlong maiden on firmer ground in the next few weeks. He’s entered at the weekend, but he wouldn’t be a certain runner at this stage. He could progress into a stakes horse.”
BAND OF OUTLAWS
2 b c Fast Company – Band Of Colour
Made it third-time lucky when winning a maiden at Limerick in June.
“He won nicely at Limerick after being unlucky at Roscommon. The plan is to step him up in class and we’re hopeful he’ll take it in his stride, as we think he’s a nice horse. Seven furlongs is a good trip for him at the moment. He could be a stakes horse.”
2 ch f Mastercraftsman – Limetree Lady
An unraced daughter of a smart sprinter, she is entered in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.
“She’s entered at the Curragh at the weekend and might have her first run there. She’s a nice filly that should stay a mile later in the season.”
2 b f Acclamation – Roxelana
Made it fourth-time lucky when winning a novice race at Bath in June.
“She won her maiden at Bath and we’ll try and get some black type with her. She’s entered in a conditions race at Windsor on Saturday and might well run there. Five furlongs is her trip.”
MEDAL OF HONOUR
2 ch c Lope De Vega – Rich Gift
Improved with each of his three starts to date, most recently finishing a close second to Rostropovich at Gowran Park in June.
“We think plenty of him and he’s improving with each start. He was a bit unlucky to get touched off at Gowran last time. We might stick to seven furlongs with him for the time being and I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t win his maiden sooner rather than later. I’d be hopeful he will progress into a stakes horse.”
NOW YOU’RE TALKING
2 b f Zoffany – Granadilla
Finished second in a maiden at the Curragh prior to finishing a never-nearer fourth in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot.
“She was just touched off in a soft-ground maiden at the Curragh and went on to run very well in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. She might go for the Tipperary Stakes in a couple of weeks.”
2 b c Iffraaj – Columella
Made an encouraging debut when fifth in a winner’s race at Naas in May.
“He was a little bit disappointing on his debut and he had a little setback afterwards that he might have picked up in the race. He’ll be back for the autumn.”
TRUE BLUE MOON
2 gr c Holy Roman Emperor – Fancy Intense
Won a maiden at Dundalk and a Listed race at Naas prior to finishing sixth in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot.
“He ran very well in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and based on that he looks ready to step up in trip. He is a likely runner in the Railway Stakes at the Curragh at the weekend, but he just wouldn’t want the ground too slow. We think a lot of him and hope he can win a Group race.”
By Donal Murphy
Ruby Shoes showed her true worth in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden, winning comfortably under Donnacha O'Brien for his brother Joseph.
The daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar was carried wide on debut at Cork, and was given an easy time of it after that incident.
Available at 16/1 this morning, she opened on-course at 14s before going a 10/1 chance in the colours of Newtown Anner Stud.
Settled in mid-division, she was pushed along on the outer from the two furlong pole, and made good progress into third with just a furlong left to race.
She got to the front in the final 100 yards, keeping on well to score by two lengths.
Live Twice finished second at 9/2 under Colm O'Donoghue for Paul Deegan, while Pure Action (9/2) was another length and three parts back in third for Kevin Manning and Johnny Feane.
Spanish Dawn was sent off the 4/1 favourite, and she finished a disappointing last, while early morning favourite Brevard proved easy to back and went off at 10s. He also disappointed, finishing thirteenth.
Donnacha O'Brien said afterwards: "We thought she was a nice filly but nothing went right for her the first day so I was easy on her.
"She actually surprised me how well she picked up and I'd say she's a nice filly."
Motherland Set For Soft-Ground Targets
Motherland will wait for softer ground following his disappointing showing at Royal Ascot last week.
Joseph O'Brien's charge ran in the marathon Queen Alexandra Stakes but could only finish 11th, with the trainer believing both the trip and ground were unsuitable.
"Probably the trip was a bit far for him and the ground a bit quick, all his best form has been on soft so we'll probably look for an ease in the ground next time," said O'Brien.
©Healy Racing Photos
©Healy Racing Photos
Amenette wins for Joseph & Billy Lee
Amenette and Bill Lee
©Healy Racing Photos By Thomas Weekes
The Joseph O’Brien trained Amenette caused a 12/1 upset in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden at Limerick today, winning ta the fourth attempt, under jockey Bill Lee.
The daughter of Power today swept to the front with a furlong to race and in the end held on to beat Navajo Dreamer by three parts of a length.
Afterwards jockey Lee stated “she hadn’t bad form coming into it, if you took out her last run and Joseph (O’Brien) was happy enough coming in. He said she’d love the ground and that’s the main factor for her disappointing run the last day.
“I got a lovely position, she travelled well and quickened up well and kept going well to the line. Hopefully there’s more to come from her when she steps into handicap company and maybe a get a black-type, who knows.”
Tamboureen 7th & Drapers Guild 5th Leopardstown 6.30
Ambiguity & Dowhatisay have been gelded.
Now You're Talking 4th Royal Ascot 3.05 great run from her
Joseph O’Brien completed an extraordinary across-the-card, three country treble at Limerick today as his Band Of Outlaws landed the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Median Auction Maiden to add to earlier wins for the trainer at Bath, in England and Downpatrick, in Northern Ireland.
Band Of Outlaws, 9/4 in to 5/4 favourite, was today recouping losses incurred in two previous outings. The son of Fast Company met trouble in running on debut at Fairyhouse on June 1, when backed on-track from 20/1 in to 8s, and again failed to win at Roscommon on Monday, when cut late-on from 9/4 - 11/8f, only for today’s winning jockey Donnacha O’Brien to lose his irons early-on before finishing second.
Today, he stayed on gamely to set the record straight for a half length win over Vicky Cristina.
Trainer O’Brien, it is safe to assume, was the first person to complete the Bath-Downpatrick-Limerick treble and although absent from Limerick, brother Donnacha later commented “the last day my foot just came out of an iron and I couldn’t get it back but to finish second without irons was a very good performance.
“He’s a lovely horse and today, when I gave him a belt or two, he quickened up to win his race but just idled when he got there.
“Ground-wise, I was a bit worried coming here today but he is versatile and handled it just as well as with a little ease.“
Immortal Bridge completed a truly mixed across the card double for Joseph O’Brien when coming out best in a thrilling finish to the Eire Og GAC Fundraiser Maiden Hurdle at Downpatrick.
The Piltown trainer had sent out Lynn’s Memory to score on the Flat at Bath just five minutes earlier, and a nose was the official winning margin as the J P McManus-owned gelding brought up a quick 62/1 double.
The 8/1 chance was strongly pressed by Caerleon Kate at the final flight, and the pair drew clear as they battled it out in the straight.
Mark Walsh’s mount was confirmed the winner following close examination by the judge, while Polymath finished 11 lengths adrift in third.
The task was eased somewhat as Major Destination (5/1) was soon pulled up after stumbling at the first flight, and 11/8 favourite Harold Peto slipped up just after the same hurdle a circuit later. Immortal Bridge won a Navan maiden last year when trained by Joseph O’Brien’s father Aidan, and showed some promise on his debut over hurdles at Punchestown last month.
Walsh said, "He learned a lot the last day. Joseph and myself said we would pop him away good and smart. "I didn't think he had got there but his head was down at the right time. He'll probably go handicapping now."
|235||Ambiguity (IRE) B.C. by Fastnet Rock (AUS) x Descant (USA)||Fur 449|
|Consignor: Carriganog Racing, Ireland (J. P. O'Brien)|
|236||Eagle Spirit (IRE) B.G. by Holy Roman Emperor (IRE) x Romie's Kastett (GER)||Fur 450|
|Consignor: Carriganog Racing, Ireland (J. P. O'Brien)|
|237||Sweetasever (IRE) Br.F. by Power (GB) x In My Dreams (IRE)||Fur 451|
|Consignor: Carriganog Racing, Ireland (J. P. O'Brien)|
|238||Lynn's Memory (GB) B.F. by Acclamation (GB) x Roxelana (IRE)||Fur 452|
|Consignor: Carriganog Racing, Ireland (J. P. O'Brien)|
Joseph O'Brien had a strong hand in the concluding Knockcroghery (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race at Roscommon. Ballinrobe third placer Border Control (4th in the end) headed the betting under Patrick Mullins, but it was the Jamie Codd ridden Champagne Paddy that grabbed the major spoils.
Owned by Pat Tennyson, well-known in hurling circles with his brother John, the Doyen gelding was settled in mid-division, and he made progress into third two furlongs out.
Ridden to lead a furlong and a half out, Champagne Paddy kept on well in the final furlong to register a three and a quarter length win over Scheu Time A big mover in the market at early prices, Youghal By The Sea could manage no better than fifth place in the end.
Codd remarked afterwards: "Joseph said to me he was a lovely horse but a little bit weak.
"He rolled around a bit early but to be fair he did all his best work at the finish. He's a nice horse."
By Gary Carson
The concluding TRM Invest In Calphormin Maiden at the Curragh this afternoon was decided in the stewards room with Mr Everest getting promoted after finishing second past the post.
There was a dramatic finish to the mile-and-a-half contest with High Haven and Mr Everest fighting it out inside the final furlong. High Haven drifted left under pressure, colliding with her rival, and got home by just a head at the line.
Not surprisingly a enquiry was called and the stewards deemed there was enough interference to reverse the placings of the first two home.
The Joseph O'Brien-trained Mr Everest, ridden by the trainer's brother Donnacha, was given the verdict on his debut over his fellow newcomer.
“He's a grand big horse. We didn't expect him to win but thought he would run well,” said winning trainer.
“He'll probably make a nice staying horse and he probably deserved to get it in the stewards room on the day.”
By Alan Magee
Tigris River, trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by his brother Donnacha, successfully reverted to the flat when taking the Brady Burns Insurance Brokers Supporting Junefest Handicap at the Curragh.
The J P McManus-owned gelding reappeared after a ten-month break at Killarney last month, and was well-supported on track here from 6/1 into 4/1 joint favourite.
The son of Montjeu, who was fifth behind Clondaw Warrior in the Galway Hurdle last year, made smooth headway to challenge in the straight and led over a furlong out in this two-mile test.
He kept on well inside the final furlong to beat Zafayan by two and three quarter lengths, with Sir Ector staying on the same distance further back in third.
Joseph O’Brien said, “They went quick and the race fell into his lap a bit. Donnacha gave him a lovely ride, and hopefully the handicapper won’t be too hard on him.
“He will mix it between hurdles and the flat and will probably go to Galway. He will have a run somewhere before that.”
In-form duo Joseph O'Brien and Davy Russell combined for a win with 7/4 favourite Dawn In The Park in the BBQ Evening At Clonmel Races Maiden Hurdle.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned Walk In The Park mare made her way 'over the road' from O'Brien's nearby Piltown base and she was never far away.
She drifted away to the stand's rail from before the last and with that to guide her home she galloped on for a one and a quarter length and three parts of a length win over Theatre Dreams and Earthly Reason (100/1). O'Brien also saddled the fourth home, Oath Breaker.
In the Gigginstown silks like the winner, Statistical (Bryan Cooper up, 9/1) finished tenth.
Joseph O'Brien said: "Davy gave her a great ride. She had been running well and didn't have to improve a whole lot. She's a nice mare and jumped well. That's her biggest asset.
"We'll see what mark the handicapper gives her, and she'll keep going over the summer."
By Alan Magee
Persistent completed a quick double at Kilbeggan for owner J P McManus and trainer Joseph O’Brien when taking the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Handicap Hurdle.
The Montjeu gelding was making his handicap debut after three hurdle outings in recent months, and was sent off an 11/2 chance in this two-mile event.
Jody McGarvey waited until after the final flight before asking the four-year-old for an effort, and he collared Newsworthy close home to score by half a length.
Konig Hall could find no extra on the run-in to finish a further three lengths back in third.
J P McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said, “He didn’t jump wonderfully but he stays well. He kept going and jumped the last couple well. He ran well here the last day, and may come back here again.”
Shane Shortall was aboard Treasure Chest for the same connections in the opener, while McManus' colours were also carried to success on the afternoon by Dont Kick Nor Bite.
Joseph O'Brien's Treasure Chest was absolutely friendless with punters but that didn't deter him from plundering the spoils in the two mile maiden hurdle at Kilbeggan.
Tiger Track raced over 10 lengths clear of the field approaching two out but the pace told on him as he was swallowed up by Treasure Chest and Denham Sound on the bend before the final flight.< Treasure Chest and Shane Shortall took a narrow lead into the last hurdle and outgunned Denham Sound on the run-in to post a two and a half length victory at 10/1.
He was a massive drifter from 9/4 in the morning and then from an opening show of 8/1.< Denham Sound was a solid 7/2 chance. There was an 11-length gap back to third-placed Chasing Yesterday (20/1).
Frank Berry, racing manger for owner JP McManus, said: “He stuck at it well and his jumping got better as the race went on. The bit of rain was a help and hopefully we’ll find a handicap for him.”
The going changed from good to good to yielding before this first race on the card.
Additional reporting by Alan Magee
Sweetasever came with a swooping run to get her head in front close home in the The Navan Members Handicap over a mile.
She was backed in from 10/1 to 7/1 and began her challenge at the furlong pole. She kept on well to beat Nimitz (12/1) by a neck. Pantsonfire (8/1) and Butoolat (10/1) completed the placings.
Jockey Connor King said: "She's a lovely filly and she had a few good runs and it is great that she won today.
"He (trainer Joseph O'Brien) was quietly confident but with so many runners you don't know. He was fairly hopeful. It was great it worked out today.
"I was travelling well, I got a good position and I always felt I was going to win. She found plenty."