Sometimes it’s the O’Brien’s world and we’re just living in it

Aidan, Joseph and Donnacha enjoy another vintage year to remember

Wednesday, November 06, 2019
Aidan Joseph Donnacha O'Brien

Donnach, Joseph and Aidan O'Brien pictured together ahead of this year's Derby at Epsom

Racing is a sport that tends to look forwards rather than back. Jockeys and trainers are notoriously unsentimental about past glories when there's always another race to be run, writes James Toney.

However, should the O'Brien family spend some time reflecting on their year in the weeks ahead - it will take some debate to compile a tight list of highlights.

In the year Aidan turned 50 he has continued to bank big races, starting the year with a double in the Guineas at Newmarket, winning a Derby double, including a record 13th victory at the Curragh, and finishing top of the trainers standings at Royal Ascot.

He won another Champion Trainer title too, his 118 wins leaving him 36 ahead of son Joseph - and €5.2m clear in prize money.

Don’t feel too sorry for O'Brien junior, who became the youngest trainer to win at racing's World Championships, the Breeders' Cup, as his star mare Iridessa banked Europe's only win. It was also the year he brought up his 500th winner as a handler.

And then there is Donnacha, whose 110 winners secured him the Champion Jockey title, matching the feat of his older brother, who won back-to-back championships in in 2012 and 2013.

Hermosa's at the double

This tough filly wasn't the pick of the four Ballydoyle entries for the first classic of the season but she made all the running under Wayne Lordan to win at Newmarket in classy fashion.

Duly sent off favourite for the Irish edition at the Curragh, she gave Ryan Moore the easiest of rides and never looked like getting beat.


Derby day delight

Aidan O'Brien scored a record-equalling seventh success in the Derby as Anthony Van Dyck showed grit and determination to master the undulating Epsom rollercoaster.

And there was a neat symmetry to the story too as O'Brien paid tribute to star sire Galileo - who gave him his first Derby winner in 2001 and has fathered three more, New Approach, Ruler Of The World and Australia.  

Both Galileo and O'Brien now need one more win at Epsom next June for the record on their own.

Another royal appointment at Ascot

Aidan O'Brien is too modest to say it out loud but he's surely got Sir Michael Stoute's Royal Ascot record in his sights.

He won the top trainer title at the royal meeting for the tenth time and nowhere was his canny knack of seeing something others don't more obvious than in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Circus Maximus appeared too slow for the Derby over a mile and a half but O'Brien persuaded connections to supplement him for €50,000 and racing in blinkers for the first time, he forged to the line over a mile. 

A champion forged at Champions Day

Donnacha started the season with a classy 2000 Guineas win on Magna Grecia and ended it in style at Qipco Champions Day at Ascot.

With Ryan Moore chasing the cash in the big-money Everest, he partnered Magical to a brilliant victory in the Champions Stakes and helped Kew Gardens spring a surprise over star stayer Stradivarius - who'd been unbeaten for two years - in the Long Distance Cup.

Joe's on top of the world

Joseph O'Brien wasn't much of a fan of studying history but he's certainly keen on rewriting it, as the youngest jockey to win a Breeders' Cup race became the youngest trainer, aged just 26, to enter the winners' enclosure too.

Nearly two years to the day from Rekindling's famous victory at the Melbourne Cup, O'Brien was left equally speechless as Wayne Lordan and Iridessa claimed a dramatic win in the Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita.

He said: "I've been coming to the Breeders' Cup for as long as I can remember, I've been lucky to ride a winner here but I've always got a better kick from training - and that felt fantastic."

Read: History is for rewriting for Joseph O'Brien

It's all about partnerships in everyday like it's like a person working at home somebody that you like you'll work better with and the results will be better and you'll work longer and harder.
- Aidan O'Brien 

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