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Iridessa gives Joseph O’Brien famous win at Breeders’ Cup

2 Nov 2019

The former jockey became the youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders' Cup winner at Santa Anita on Saturday night

O’Brien is pictured with his father, Aidan, and mother, Ann Marie, plus girlfriend Tara Armstrong (second right) and sisters Sarah and Ana (right). Photo Healy Racing/

Joseph O’Brien became the youngest trainer to saddle a Breeders’ Cup winner when Iridessa stormed home in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

The 26-year-old is also only the second trainer to have tasted Breeders’ Cup glory as a jockey, after Freddy Head, following his Turf triumph aboard St Nicholas Abbey in 2011 – which made him the youngest rider to triumph.

Iridessa had warmed up for her triumph in America by finishing third to Billesdon Brook in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last month – a race that forms part of the Mile category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

She was guided to success by Wayne Lordan, who was also opening his Breeders’ Cup account, and he had the Pretty Polly and Matron Stakes heroine in a decent position from the start.

Mirth set the pace and soon built up a big lead, but she was swamped in the straight and it was left to Iridessa and Vasilika to fight out the finish.

Iridessa (8-1) battled on gamely to land the spoils by a neck. Last year’s winner Sistercharlie was a never-nearer three lengths back in third.

O’Brien said: “It’s unbelievable. I’ve always got a much greater kick training a winner than riding a winner since I started training.

“It’s a dream, really, I’ve had a handful of Breeders’ Cup runners, but for this to happen it’s very special and it hasn’t sunk in yet.”

He added: “She’s been a great servant to her owner, competing in all the best races and either winning or placing, and I’d love to think she will stay in training next year, when we will run in all the top mile and mile-and-a-quarter races.”

Investec Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck was a fine third in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and might have gone close to winning but for meeting traffic problems in the closing stages.

Circus Maximus was fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, with Lord Glitters finishing ninth.