Aidan O'Brien

Last updated

Aidan O'Brien
AP O'Brien.jpg
Aidan O'Brien before the start of the 2012 Epsom Derby.
Occupation Trainer
Born (1969-10-16) 16 October 1969 (age 51)
County Wexford, Ireland
Significant horses
Istabraq, Giant's Causeway, Mozart, Imagine, Galileo, Johannesburg, Hawk Wing, Rock of Gibraltar, High Chaparral, Powerscourt, Oratorio, Yeats, Scorpion, George Washington, Alexandrova, Dylan Thomas, Peeping Fawn, Duke of Marmalade, Henrythenavigator, Mastercraftsman, Fame and Glory, Rip Van Winkle, Lillie Langtry, St Nicholas Abbey, Cape Blanco, Misty for Me, Roderic O'Connor, So You Think, Treasure Beach, Camelot, Ruler of the World, Australia, Gleneagles, Qualify, Minding, Found, Highland Reel, Churchill, Winter, Magical

Aidan Patrick O'Brien (born 16 October 1969 in County Wexford, Ireland) [1] is an Irish horse racing trainer. Since 1996, he has been the private trainer at Ballydoyle Stables near Rosegreen in County Tipperary for John Magnier and his Coolmore Stud associates.

Contents

Early and private life

Aidan O'Brien was one of six children of Denis O'Brien (died 1 December 2008 [2] ) and his wife Stella (née Doyle). Denis was a farmer and small-scale horse trainer in the townland of Killegney, near Poulpeasty, in County Wexford, where Aidan grew up.

Aidan O'Brien attended Donard National School, located less than a mile from his parents' home. He subsequently attended secondary school at Good Counsel College, New Ross, also located in County Wexford. [3] O'Brien is a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, meaning that he does not drink alcohol. [4]

O'Brien first started working professionally with horses at P.J. Finn's racing stables at the Curragh, County Kildare, and then with Jim Bolger at Coolcullen, County Carlow. [3]

Aidan O'Brien is married to Anne-Marie (née Crowley). Anne-Marie's father, Joe Crowley trained horses at Piltown, County Kilkenny, where his tenure was interrupted in quick succession by his daughter Anne-Marie (Champion National Hunt Trainer during her brief time at the helm), his son-in-law Aidan O'Brien (who took over from his wife in 1993 but moved on to Ballydoyle in 1996) and then another daughter, Frances Crowley (who moved on to train on the Curragh for some years). Joe then renewed his own training licence for some years before retiring.

Aidan O’Brien was champion Irish National Hunt trainer in the 1993/4 season and went on to lift the title for the next 5 consecutive seasons. His most successful horse during this time was the famed Istabraq. In 1996 he was approached by John Magnier to train at Ballydoyle. For a number of years he retained his Piltown yard. [5]

O'Brien and Anne-Marie have four children, with Joseph, Sarah, Anastasia and Donnacha all jockeys. Joseph became apprenticed to his father and rode his first winner shortly after his sixteenth birthday, on Johann Zoffany at Leopardstown on 28 May 2009. In 2012 O'Brien and Joseph, 19, became the first father-son/trainer-jockey combination to win The Derby, with Camelot. As of 2020, he is the most successful Epsom Derby trainer of all time with 8 wins. [6]

Successes

Desert King won the National Stakes to give Aidan O'Brien his first Group 1 success. [7]

Desert King won the Irish 2,000 Guineas to give Aidan O'Brien his first classic success. [8]

Aidan O'Brien was crowned England's champion trainer, the first Irishmen to achieve the feat since Vincent O'Brien in 1971. [9]

2004 Proved to be a disappointing year for O'Brien. It started off with the removal of Michael Kinane as stable jockey. Kinane was replaced by the young Jamie Spencer who had developed a good reputation riding in the UK. However the year ultimately proved disappointing on the track. Spencer was replaced after a string of self-confessed mistakes on Powerscourt in the Arlington Million and on the same horse again in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Kieren Fallon replaced Spencer as Ballydoyle's stable jockey. On the first classic weekend of the 2005 flat season the newly formed partnership of Aidan O'Brien and Kieren Fallon took home both the 2,000 Guineas (Footstepsinthesand) and the 1,000 Guineas (Virginia Waters). More major successes followed with Oratorio (Eclipse Stakes, Irish Champion Stakes), Scorpion (Grand Prix de Paris, St. Leger) and juveniles George Washington, Rumplestiltskin and Horatio Nelson.

The start of the 2006 flat season saw George Washington confirm his juvenile promise by easily winning the 2,000 Guineas on Newmarket's Rowley Mile to give O'Brien his fourth win in the race. While George Washington disappointed in the Irish equivalent, he redeemed himself in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. Dylan Thomas also made his mark in the top middle distance races in Europe. After going close in the Epsom Derby, he was found to be more effective under a patient Kieren Fallon ride in the Irish Derby. Dylan Thomas also showed his battling qualities in the Irish Champion Stakes, where he beat the Champion mare Ouija Board by a neck. Other 2006 highlights came through Alexandrova who dominated the middle distance fillies classics taking in The Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks. The end of season saw the juvenile Holy Roman Emperor take the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère on Arc day at Longchamp. In one of the races of the season he was beaten by a head in the Dewhurst Stakes by European Champion 2-year-old Teofilo. Much anticipation centred on the expected rematch of these two colts in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket the following spring. Aidan finished the season with prizemoney of over €6.5m in Ireland and Great Britain. The season was marked however by the emerging race fixing allegations involving stable jockey Kieren Fallon. On 3 July 2006, Fallon was charged along with 7 other people for conspiring to defraud clients of the internet betting exchange Betfair. Fallon was one of 28 people answering bail at Bishopsgate police station in the City of London in connection with the inquiry. In a released police statement, he was described as being charged with "offences relating to allegations of fixing the outcome of horse races between 1 December 2002 and 2 September 2004, and money laundering". He was amongst three jockeys charged, along with Darren Williams and Fergal Lynch, all of whom had their licences to ride in Britain suspended, effectively under the principle that they would be guilty until found innocent. Fallon's problems were further compounded when on 29 November 2006 the French racing authority France Galop suspended Fallon for six months after he tested positive for a metabolite of a banned substance.

The end of the 2006 season had apparently left Ballydoyle with multiple options for the following year's classics. However the opening part of the season was left in turmoil after the premature retirement of Holy Roman Emperor. The previous year's champion miler George Washington proved almost infertile, ultimately siring only one foal. As a late replacement, Holy Roman Emperor was sent to Coolmore Stud. Plans had to be drastically changed with O'Brien saying "all our eggs were in one basket" in relation to the opening classic of the season the 2,000 Guineas. As a result, the season began relatively quietly as far as O'Brien's classic crop was concerned. However signs of changing fortunes would emerge on the day of the Poule d'Essai des Poulains when Astronomer Royal came with a late run to give Ballydoyle a 1–3–4 finish. Group 1 success was seen in the older horses through the previous year's Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas when he won the Prix Ganay. The mid summer was highlighted by Scorpion winning the Coronation Cup in an O'Brien 1–2 with stable mate Septimus. The stable also dominated the St. James's Palace Stakes and the Irish Derby with Excellent Art and Soldier of Fortune respectively leading home 1–2–3 for O'Brien horses. O'Brien finished Royal Ascot as top trainer with four winners including Yeats who retained his Ascot Gold Cup and Henrythenavigator who set the juvenile standard for the early part of the season by winning the Coventry Stakes. Kieren Fallon returned to retainer duties in both Ireland and France, although his ban in Britain was still being enforced pending the result of his trial in relation to fraud in racing. Peeping Fawn managed to learn from her second place in The Oaks by taking the Audi Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh and eventually overturning form, albeit on softer ground, with Light Shift in the Irish Oaks. The season of 2007 also saw Aidan land the one big European race that had so far eluded him throughout his illustrious career when Dylan Thomas won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe under Kieren Fallon. The season however ended on a very sad note after George Washington was put down after breaking down in the Breeders Cup Classic.

During the off season Johnny Murtagh was appointed stable jockey after Kieren Fallon's acquittal on race-fixing charges was quickly followed by a second drugs suspension. However the introduction of Johnny Murtagh to Ballydoyle was to prove a baptism of fire and assisted Aidan in what was to be a vintage Ballydoyle year, equalling his previous best Group 1 tally of 23. As a team Aidan and Johnny were to dominate the Irish classic scene taking all five Irish Classic Races thus being the first trainer to do so since 1935. He again was named Champion trainer in Britain taking his second title in a row. He equalled former Ballydoyle resident Vincent O'Brien's record of 6 winners at Royal Ascot, four of these at the highest level including Yeats' record-equalling third consecutive Ascot Gold Cup. Henrythenavigator won both the Irish and English 2000 Guineas, and followed up with the St James's Palace Stakes. Duke of Marmalade won 5 times at group 1 level and was considered by many to be the Champion older male horse in Europe at middle distances. Other highlights through the year were provided by Halfway to Heaven, Frozen Fire, Mastercraftsman, Mount Nelson, Fame and Glory, Septimus and Moonstone.

O'Brien's horses won a record 7 races at Royal Ascot in 2016. [10]

O'Brien set a new world record by training 26 Group or Grade 1 winners in one calendar year when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, which beat the US-based Bobby Frankel's 2003 mark of 25. [11] By the end of the year O'Brien extended the record to 28.

Coolmore Stud

O'Brien is backed by the Coolmore operation. The Coolmore operation is renowned for high-priced yearling purchases at the Keeneland September Yearling Sales and elsewhere.

Major wins

Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland


Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia


Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada


Flag of France.svg France


Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain


Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong


Flag of Italy.svg Italy


Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates


Flag of the United States.svg United States


Related Research Articles

Kieren Fallon 20th and 21st-century Irish jockey

Kieren Francis Fallon is a retired Irish professional flat racing jockey and was British Champion Jockey six times.

Johnny Murtagh

Johnny Murtagh is an Irish flat racing jockey and trainer from Bohermeen, Kells, County Meath. He has won many of the major flat races in Europe, including all the Irish Classics, all the Group 1 Races at Royal Ascot, The Derby, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes and Europe's biggest race the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. He has also been Irish flat racing Champion Jockey five times.

Vincent O'Brien was an Irish race horse trainer from Churchtown, County Cork, Ireland. In 2003 he was voted the greatest influence in horse racing history in a worldwide poll hosted by the Racing Post. In earlier Racing Post polls he was voted the best ever trainer of national hunt and of flat racehorses. He trained six horses to win the Epsom Derby, won three Grand Nationals in succession and trained the only British Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky, since the Second World War. He was twice British champion trainer in flat racing and also twice in national hunt racing; the only trainer in history to have been champion under both rules. Aidan O'Brien took over the Ballydoyle stables after his retirement.

George Washington (horse) Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

George Washington was a thoroughbred racehorse foaled in Ireland by champion sire Danehill out of Bordighera, also the dam of the high-class colt Grandera. Bred by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, he was trained at Ballydoyle by Aidan O'Brien and owned by Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith. George Washington suffered a dislocated ankle fracture during the Breeders' Cup Classic at Monmouth Park on 27 October 2007, and was euthanized. The horse was nicknamed 'Gorgeous George' by his followers.

Yeats is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse who won seven Group One (G1) races and is the only horse ever to win the Ascot Gold Cup four times in succession.

Alexandrova (horse) Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Alexandrova is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse best known for winning The Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks in 2006.

Ryan Moore (jockey)

Ryan Lee Moore is an English flat racing jockey, who was Champion Jockey in 2006, 2008 and 2009. He is currently the first choice jockey for Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle operation, a role in which he mainly rides horses owned by Coolmore Stud. He also sometimes rides horses for Juddmonte and The Queen.

Jamie Spencer Irish flat racing jockey (born 1980)

Jamie Spencer is an Irish flat racing jockey currently riding in the UK. He has been champion jockey in both Ireland and Britain and has won four classics, two in each country. Spencer is an advocate for the art of holding up horses late into the races, and then making use of their natural dash of speed.

Dylan Thomas is a retired Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire. In a racing career which lasted from June 2005 until December 2007, he ran twenty times and won ten races. After winning two minor races in 2005 he improved to become one of the leading European three-year-olds of 2006, winning the Irish Derby and the Irish Champion Stakes as well as finishing a close third in The Derby. In 2007 he won three of Europe's most important weight-for-age races, taking the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, a second Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. His performances led to his being named European Horse of the Year in 2007.

Scorpion is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. As a three-year-old in 2005 he won the Grand Prix de Paris and the St. Leger Stakes. In 2007 he won the Coronation Cup.

James S. Bolger is a thoroughbred racehorse trainer and breeder based in Coolcullen in County Kilkenny. For many years, he has been recognised as one of the racing greats in Ireland. Aidan O'Brien, Tony McCoy and Paul Carberry were all apprenticed to him before gaining professional recognition in their own right.

Duke of Marmalade Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Duke of Marmalade is a retired Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire. He is best known for winning five consecutive Group One races in 2008, for which he was named European Champion Older Horse. Upon retirement at the end of the 2008 racing season he stood as a stallion for Coolmore Stud, being moved between stud farms in Ireland and Australia. In July 2014 he was sold and relocated to Drakenstein Stud in South Africa where he currently stands.

Milan (horse) British-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Milan, is a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire who was bred in Britain but trained in Ireland. In a career which lasted from October 2000 until May 2002, he ran ten times and won three races. He recorded his most important success when winning the Classic St. Leger Stakes as a three-year-old in 2001. In the same year also won the Great Voltigeur Stakes and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Turf. He was retired after being injured in his only race as a four-year-old.

Joseph Patrick OBrien Irish jockey and horse trainer

Joseph Patrick O'Brien is an Irish horse racing trainer and former flat racing jockey. He is the son of trainer Aidan O'Brien. In 2012 he rode Camelot to win the 2,000 Guineas, the 2012 Epsom Derby and the Irish Derby.

Virginia Waters is an American-bred, Irish-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. In a racing career which lasted from September 2004 to October 2005 she ran twelve times and won three races. After winning once from four starts as a two-year-old, she won the Group Three Leopardstown 1,000 Guineas Trial Stakes on her first appearance of 2005. She then recorded her most important success when winning the Classic 1000 Guineas two of her six races including an upset win in the Group Two Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse. Virginia Waters failed to win her remaining six races, her best results coming when she finished fourth in The Oaks and second in the Matron Stakes. At the end of her three-year-old season she was retired from racing to become a broodmare.

Minding (horse) Irish Thoroughbred racehorse

Minding is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse. She was among the leading two-year-old fillies of her generation in Europe in 2015 when she won three of her five races including the Moyglare Stud Stakes in Ireland and the Fillies' Mile in England. On her first appearance of 2016 the filly posted a decisive victory in the classic 1000 Guineas but was subsequently beaten when favourite for the Irish 1,000 Guineas. She went on to win a second classic in The Oaks in June, the first filly to complete the Guineas-Oaks double since Kazzia in 2002. She went on to take her fifth and sixth Group One races with wins in the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Nassau Stakes. She then defeated male opposition to take the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. At the end of the year she was named Cartier Horse of the Year and the world's best three-year-old filly. She won on her reappearance in 2017 but subsequently suffered an injury which led to her retirement later that year without racing again.

Listen is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and broodmare. She showed her best form as a two-year-old in 2007 she won the Listed Saoire Stakes on her debut, finished second in both the Debutante Stakes and the Moyglare Stud Stakes and then recorded her biggest success in the Group One Fillies' Mile. Her subsequent racing career was compromised by injury and she made little impact in two races as a three-year-old. She has had some success as a broodmare in Japan.

Winter (horse) Irish-bred Thoroughbred racehorse

Winter is an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse. She won one minor race from three starts as a two-year-old in 2016, but made considerable improvement in the following spring and won the 1000 Guineas on her fifth racecourse appearance. She went on to record further Group 1 victories in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes and Nassau Stakes.

Septimus was an Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a racing career which was frequently interrupted by injury he won eight of his thirteen races between September 2005 and November 2008. He showed very promising form as a juvenile, winning the Beresford Stakes and finishing third when favourite the Racing Post Trophy and went on to win the Dante Stakes by eight lengths in an abbreviated three-year-old campaign. At four he won the Mooresbridge Stakes and was then stepped up in distance to take the Lonsdale Cup and the Doncaster Cup. In his final season he won the Curragh Cup and the Irish St. Leger, taking the latter event by thirteen lengths. He was rated the best horse in the world over extended distances in both 2007 and 2008. He was retired to stud but had fertility problems and died in 2010 after complications resulting from a gelding operation.

Pedro the Great is an American-bred, Irish-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. He raced only as a two-year-old in 2012 when he won two of his five races including the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. He was retired from racing in 2013 and became a breeding stallion in France.

References

  1. Aidan O'Brien bio NTRA.com Archived 13 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. 'Irish Independent' 2 December 2008 Archived 22 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 H. Ashdown (ed.) & Poulpeasty Parish Committee, Echoes of Poulpeasty (Enniscorthy: Courtney & Hogan Print Ltd., 1999), p. 174.
  4. Dillon, Mike (30 April 2011). "Racing: Freak galloper in quiet debut". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  5. Conway, Alan (2017). Coolmore Stud Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story. Mercier Press. p. 122. ISBN   978 1 78117 508 8.
  6. Alysen Miller (2 June 2012). "Camelot makes history as Queen watches". CNN.
  7. Conway, Alan (2017). Coolmore Stud Ireland's Greatest Sporting Success Story. Mercier Press. p. 123. ISBN   978 1 78117 508 8.
  8. Conway, Alan (2017). Coolmore Stud Ireland's Greatest Sporting Success Story. Mercier Press. p. 123. ISBN   978 1 78117 508 8.
  9. Conway, Alan (2017). Coolmore Stud Ireland's Greatest Sporting Success Story. Mercier Press. p. 126. ISBN   978 1 78117 508 8.
  10. Conway, Alan (2017). Coolmore Stud Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story. Mercier Press. p. 128. ISBN   978 1 78117 508 8.
  11. "Trainer Aidan O'Brien breaks Group One wins record". BBC Sport. 28 October 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2018.