Joseph O’Brien had a brief but spectacular career as a jockey. And his early years as a trainer have been similarly sensational.
He began with a head start, of course, being the son of record-breaking trainer Aidan O’Brien. But anybody who suggests Derby winners and Melbourne Cup victors are handed to you on a plate could not be more mistaken.
O’Brien Jr was born in 1993 and had just turned 16 when riding his first winner at Leopardstown on May 28, 2009. Two years later, he gained his first Classic success aboard Roderic O’Connor in the Irish 2000 Guineas and the following year, still a teenager, he won the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, Derby and Irish Derby on Camelot. No father and son had previously combined to win the Derby.
He was champion jockey in Ireland in 2012 and 2013 but, tall for a jockey, was fighting a losing battle against the scales. In March 2016, he announced he was stopping riding to concentrate on a new career as a trainer.
Group 1 success was instantly achieved that year via Intricately in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the following year he achieved something his father has never managed – win a Melbourne Cup with Rekindling. In 2020, he repeated the trick with Twilight Payment.
In between, he won the Irish Derby with Latrobe and was also toasting success at the Cheltenham Festival and Breeders’ Cup.
Back to 2020, and a thrilling first QIPCO British Champions Series in the St Leger, no less, with Galileo Chrome.
So much already achieved. And he’s only 27.