Only one other trainer – Dermot Weld – has the distinction of saddling Cheltenham Festival winners having also conquered the Melbourne Cup and Irish Derby on the Flat but, Joseph O’Brien can boast all that and more.
Less than a year after Rekindling became only the third Irish-trained winner of the race that stops a nation, Latrobe landed the Irish Derby, a breakthrough domestic Classic success for the 25-year-old handler and his brother Donnacha, who would end the year as champion jockey.
O’Brien has built up his best team of horses yet and, while winning big races has become the norm, the glory days are not lost on the young trainer.
He explained: “I didn’t expect to have the success that we’ve had – I didn’t even dream of having the big winners we’ve had. It’s been unbelievable.
“I’m in a seriously privileged position and I have a great team around me. When I came here we had only 12 to 15 horses riding out. We worked hard and we have a great team who take pride in what they do every day.
“We’ve been lucky but it’s important to keep looking forward and building – the phone doesn’t ring when you’re not having winners. We’re thrilled with how things are going and we’ve got a lovely bunch of horses to look forward to this season.”
Latrobe, who runs in Monday’s Mooresbridge Stakes, is reported to have done well during the winter while Iridessa, who finished eighth in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas looks an obvious Oaks candidate while Buckhurst is being talked about as a potential Derby horse. Lots to look forward to, indeed.
Yard Owning Hill
Where Piltown, County Kilkenny
Head lad Faisal Hayat
Assistants Mark Power and Brendan Powell
Secretaries Mark Hackett and Emma Dunning
Travelling Head Girls/Lads Jim O’Brien, Tina Evans, Paddy Doody and Damien Byrne
Jockeys Donnacha O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan and Wayne Lordan
Apprentices Alan Persse, Shane Crosse and Hugh Horgan
Stable sponsor Al Basti Equiworld and Betfair
WINNERS IN IRELAND
PROFIT/LOSS TO A €1 STAKE
Camelot (sire) – Wishing (dam)
Owner: Blackrock Racing Syndicate
Racing Post Rating 94
Official Rating 84
I was delighted for the lads who own him when he won at Naas last month. He’d been working well ahead of that but, to be honest, I thought he’d need the run. There’s a new ladies race at Leopardstown worth €50,000 on Saval Beg Stakes day and he could go there. He could go jumping further down the line as well. He used to travel well without seeing out his races last year but the gelding operation seems to have worked well with him.
Band Of Outlaws
4g Fast Company – Band Of Colour
RPR 98 OR 93
He’s taken to hurdling well and there’s a chance he could come back to the Flat with Galway being the main aim – he’d have the option of running in the Topaz Mile or the Galway Hurdle. He could even run in the two, we’ll have to see closer to the time.
Chess Grand Master
6g Galileo – Rimth
Rugby & Racing Syndicate
RPR 91 OR 88
He’ll be campaigned in all of those good staying handicaps and I think he’ll give the lads who own him plenty of fun this summer. There’s a 2m handicap at the Curragh on Guineas weekend and we’ll aim him at that.
4f Vocalised – Gold Mirage
RPR 103 OR 102
She made a great start for us this season when winning a Listed race at Cork but she was a bit disappointing in the Vintage Crop last time behind Master Of Reality when the race didn’t work out at all for her. Seamie [Heffernan] rode her that day and said to put a line through the run. The main objective would be to win a Group 2 race with her this season.
4f Lethal Force – Humouresque
Power Mac Partnership
RPR 97 OR 91
There’s a good programme for fillies and mares and she finished third in a fillies’ handicap over a mile at Gowran on Sunday. She was bought with the aim of picking up black type and I think she can do that.
4c Camelot – Cinnamon Rose
O T I Racing
RPR 103 OR 101
He’s done well from three to four and was probably entitled to start back with a win at Dundalk last Friday. Given his owners, he could end up in Australia later in the year.
4g Equiano – Intrusion
RPR 98 OR 97
He went to Dubai but was disappointing out there. He’s back in full work now and seems to be in good form. Royal Ascot could come under consideration for him.
4c Kodiac – Mimiteh
RPR 106 OR 105
Got injured after his first run in Dubai but he’s back in full work now and looks great. He’s another who’ll have Royal Ascot on his agenda.
4c Camelot – Question Times
Lloyd J Williams
RPR 116 OR 114
A star for us last season, winning the Irish Derby, he’s wintered very well and I was delighted with his return when third in the Alleged Stakes at Naas last month. He runs in the Mooresbridge Stakes this afternoon at the Curragh and we’ll take things from there. The Tattersalls Gold Cup could be a logical option but that race is shaping up to be quite hot so we’ll have to see. You’d imagine he could end up back in Australia at the end of the year.
5m Requinto – Filandre
Annus Mirabilis Syndicate
RPR 87 OR 62
We fancied her to run a big race at Navan just over a week ago and she stayed on strongly to finish second. She looks like she’ll be capable of winning off her rating and she’s been working well lately.
Master Of Reality
4g Frankel – L’Ancresse
Lloyd J Williams
RPR 110 OR 99
We were delighted with him when he won the Group 3 Vintage Crop Stakes on his return. He’s progressed a lot better from three to four than we had expected. He’ll be trained with the Ascot Gold Cup in mind and the Saval Beg Stakes would be the logical next step for him.
4g Pour Moi – Persian Fillly
Mohammed Hamad Khalifa Al-Attiyah
RPR 105 OR 103
He’s had a good break but he’s back and seems in good form. Again, he’s one we’d like to aim at Royal Ascot, and he’ll have a run before.
5h Perfect Soul – Tapatina
Charles E Fipke
RPR 91 OR 86
Ran a lovely race on his return at Cork where he was probably unlucky not to win. We’ll look at stepping him up in trip and we might train him for something at Royal Ascot.
6m Sakhee – Maimoona
Capel Street Syndicate
RPR 103 OR 96
Ran a serious race first time up this season at Gowran and she’ll go to the Curragh [today] for a 0-100 handicap – she’s in good shape. With these fillies, black type is important, and that will be her aim in time.
Speak In Colours
4c Excelebration – Maglietta Fina
Mrs C C Regalado-Gonzalez
RPR 113 OR 111
He was due to run in the Woodlands Stakes at Naas at the end of last month but he had a dirty scope so the plan will be to start him off in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh on Guineas weekend. He’s a talented sprinter.
True Blue Moon
4c Holy Roman Emperor – Fancy Intense
RPR 98 OR 100
A Listed-winning juvenile. He had colic surgery last season and missed a good bit of time, but he’s back going well and we’re happy with him.
4f Elzaam – Wiolante
RPR 90 OR 87
A good servant to us last year, winning four on the bounce and placing in plenty of other good races. She ran well on her return and we’ll try to get black type with her.
f Australia – Eccentricity
Mrs C C Regalado-Gonzalez
RPR 88 OR –
Impressive on her debut last month at Dundalk, but she didn’t get the clearest of runs when fifth in a Listed race at Navan. That was just her first run on grass and we’ll probably work back from something like the Irish Oaks with her.
c Australia – Artful
Lloyd J Williams
RPR 78 OR-
The plan is to go back to the Derrinstown Derby Trial at Leopardstown with him. He’d have to probably win the Derrinstown, and win it well, if we’re to go to the Epsom Derby with him but he has his chance to prove he can go that direction. If he doesn’t go down the Epsom route we could come back for the Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh before teeing him up for the Irish Derby. All options are open to him and he’s exciting.
f Acclamation – Royal Fizz
H R D McCalmont & Hamish McCalmont
RPR 100 OR 100
She ran a cracker on her seasonal debut at Navan where she was denied a clear run through and had to settle for third. She was a late foal and she’s a filly we think will be better with time. She’s exciting and we’ll explore going up in trip with her at some stage. The Polania Stakes at Cork [Friday] could be an ideal race for her next. You’d imagine she’d be hard enough to beat in that.
Cnoc An Oir
f Born To Sea – Witch Of Fife
Mrs Joan Brosnan
She ran a serious race on her seasonal debut at Cork, and getting black type will be her main objective. She’s a small filly but she’s very well bred and she’s a half-sister to the dam of 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia.
c Excelebration – Flavia Tatiana
RPR 92 OR 94
He had a lovely first run of the year at Cork last month and he’ll have one more run between now and the Britannia at Royal Ascot.
c Camelot – Meiosis
Lloyd J Williams
RPR 79 OR 80
He should be capable of winning a nice handicap off his rating. He did well from a very bad draw at Naas two starts back and ran well on his return to that track just over a week ago.
Joseph O’Brien is 7-23 in Killarney non-handicap hurdles, a 30% strike-rate giving a profit of £10.96 to a €1 stake. Backing those who went off 5-1 or shorter sees the percentage rise to 50%, with six of the 12 winning and three more placing.
c Australia – Kittens
LECH Racing Limited
RPR 86 OR88
He finished second in three maidens before disappointing at Cork but the pace was very slow that day and it turned into a sprint in the straight, which didn’t suit. He’ll probably have one more run before Royal Ascot, where we’re thinking of running him in the three-year-old 1m4f handicap.
f Ruler Of The World – Senta’s Dream
Mrs C C Regalado-Gonzalez
RPR 114 OR 112
She did well at two, winning the Group 1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket. I thought she ran a lovely race when third at Leopardstown on her seasonal debut and there were plenty of positives to take from her effort in yesterday’s 1,000 Guineas. I’d be hopeful that she can develop into an Oaks candidate later in the season. We’ll take her home and see how she comes out of Newmarket but, all being well, the Irish 1,000 Guineas could be the logical next step for her.
c Footstepsinthesand – Beach Of Falesa
Mrs A M O’Brien
RPR 81 OR 80
He won well in what looked a competitive race at Cork and we think he’s got a little bit of scope to improve. He’ll go up in trip and will go three-year-old hurdling eventually.
c Charm Spirit – Thankful
RPR 84 OR 82
We could explore going up in trip with him and I’d like to try him at 1m2f at some stage. He’s another who should be well capable of winning races off his current rating.
c Frankel – Seven Magicians
RPR 87 OR 78
He ran well in what was a very competitive race at Navan last time where I’d say he was bumping into two well-handicapped horses. He should be winning off his rating.
No Needs Never
c No Nay Never – Opera Fan
Mark Dobbin & Philip Antonacci
RPR 101 OR 104
He ran well at Naas last time and the plan is to go to the French Guineas. He’s an exciting colt, a huge big horse, and he’s done well during the winter. He’ll probably be even better in the autumn or next year.
c Holy Roman Emperor – Delicate Charm
Long Wait Two Partnership
RPR 99 OR 89
He’s won twice at Dundalk and was third in a Listed race at the track last time out in March. He’s a decent horse and seems to be improving. He’s on a little break right now as he was busy all winter but we’ll take in all those big handicaps during the summer.
f Holy Roman Emperor – Moonstone Magic
Mrs David Nagle
RPR 94 OR 89
The main aim would be to get black type. She was fourth in a Listed race at Navan and we’d be hopeful there’s more to come from her. She’ll excel on heavy ground – the heavier the ground the better for her.
g Zoffany – Court Circular
Kangyu International Racing (HK) Limited
RPR 84 OR 77
He’s been placed plenty of times and sooner or later his luck will change.
f Canford Cliffs – Snap Alam
J P Farrell
Ran an encouraging race when third on her debut at Gowran and she’s a nice filly who should win a maiden.
We’ve run a handful of juveniles, including Never Before (c No Nay Never – Endure), who we really like. He ran well when second at Dundalk and should have no trouble winning his maiden. Cobb And Co (c Camacho – Perliere) also ran with promise on his debut at Tipperary and can improve, as can Phase After Phase (c Siyouni – Pollyana).
We’ve also run two fillies, Tinkerbells Effect (f Kodiac – Minionette) and Funny Little Ways (f Gutaifan – Midnight Oasis) and they go well. Mine usually improve for a run.
There’s a nice bunch of juveniles and we’re looking forward to getting them out. Of the colts, Franklin Street is a nice No Nay Never horse who doesn’t want the ground too quick but we think he’s going well. Potala Palace is a nice Dansili colt. He’ll probably want 7f and he goes well.
Fame And Acclaim, by Acclamation, is working nicely and he’ll start in a 6f maiden. We have a nice horse for Phoenix Thoroughbreds, an Invincible Spirit colt out of Sahara Sky, and he’s working well.
Dark Vader, a colt by Dark Angel, is going well as is Royal Affair, by Kingman, and a Charm Spirit colt called Air Force Jet also pleases me. Unforgetable is a Muhaarar filly we like a lot.
Horse to follow
Owned by Ireland rugby union coach Joe Schmidt, this fellow got off the mark at the third time of asking in a Roscommon maiden in July and progressed after that without winning, including when fifth in a Group 3 at Leopardstown. He has always appeared well suited by a mile-plus, and his comeback run in a 7f conditions race at Cork where they did not go quickly augurs well. He looks likely to be a factor in all of the good mile handicaps over the course of the season.