Class of 2020: Joseph O'Brien

The brilliant Irish trainer talks to Kevin Blake about his team of two-year-olds for 2020.

  • Thursday 23 April
  • Blog
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JOSEPH O'BRIEN has been a star in the world of horse racing since he was a teenager. A meteoric rise up the jockey ranks saw him ride 31 Group/Grade 1 winners in a remarkable riding career that came to premature end due to weight problems when he was just 22 years of age. 

By that stage he had already been learning his trade as a trainer by sending out runners under his father Aidan O’Brien’s name from their family farm in Owning. Never one for starting slowly, one of the winners he saddled under that arrangement was Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.  

Joseph’s own training career officially started after he was granted his own license to train in June 2016. Since then he has quickly grown into one of the leading trainers in Europe, saddling multiple Group 1 winners on the Flat and Grade 1 winners over jumps. His most notable successes include Rekindling in the Melbourne Cup, Latrobe in the Irish Derby, Iridessa in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and Edwulf in the Irish Gold Cup. 

In just his second full Flat season in 2018 he finished second to in the Irish trainer’s championship and became the first Irish trainer other than Aidan O’Brien to train 100 domestic winners on the Flat in a calendar year since 1994, a feat he repeated in 2019.

With him still being just 26 years of age, the remarkable reality is that Joseph O’Brien is only just getting started.

Joseph spoke to Kevin Blake from to discuss a selection of his two-year-olds for the upcoming season.

Please note: Where a horse exists in the ATR database we have linked to its form and tracker profile below, we will update others when they become available.  

Bay Filly: No Nay NeverVeronica Falls
A half-sister to the useful two-year-old Chicas Amigas from the family of Red Bloom.
“She’s a really nice filly that has shown plenty of pace. Being a No Nay Never, she is bred to be mature and has shown herself to be just that so far. She’ll be ready to run as soon as racing starts again. She’s one I’m looking forward to.”

Chestnut Filly; Kitten’s Joy – Alta Love
A granddaughter of the Grade 1 winner La Gueriere.
“This is a lovely filly. She’s a big, strong, good-looking filly that is probably more so one for the second half of the season. We’ll be looking forward to her whenever she starts off on the racecourse and she’s likely to start off at seven furlongs. We have another horse here by Kitten’s Joy for Scott Heider called Crossfirehurricane that won a Listed race earlier this year and is a lovely horse. Hopefully this filly can do as well as him.”

Bay Colt; GalileoMystical Lady
A full-brother to the high-class Kingfisher who won two Listed races and was second in both the Irish Derby and the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.
“He’s a lovely, well-bred colt. He’ll be one to start off once the seven-furlong maidens get going. His full-brother Kingfisher was second in a Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, so he’s obviously bred to stay well, but he’s been showing up well in his work and doesn’t seem to be short of pace for a horse with his profile.”

Bay Colt; Charm SpiritLikely
Out of a useful winning juvenile, he is from the well-known German family of Lomitas.
“He is a big, strong colt that shows loads of pace in his work. He’ll be one to start off in the mid-summer and he looks to have more than enough pace to start off at six furlongs. He’s showing up well at this stage.”

Bay Colt; MehmasLillebonne
A half-brother to the smart middle-distance performer Micro Manage.
“He’s a nice, mature colt that is showing a nice bit at home. I’d expect him to be ready to start off as soon as racing gets back underway. He shows plenty of pace and while he is most likely to start off at six furlongs, it wouldn’t surprise if he is effective over five furlongs.”

Bay Filly: Excelebration – Height Of Elegance 
A half-sister to the useful Zofelle from the family of Henrythenavigator.
“This is a lovely filly that looks to have been well bought, as her half-sister Zofelle has been doing well in America since this filly was bought. She looks a six/seven-furlong type of filly and we like her.”

Bay Colt; ZoffanyNidhaal
A half-brother to the Group 2-placed juvenile Burwaaz.
“He is shaping up well at home and shows plenty of speed. He is bred to be as mature as he seems to be and he should be ready to run as soon as racing starts up again.”

Unnamed colt
Bay Colt; Fastnet Rock – Pride
A full-brother to the two-time Group 2 winner One Foot In Heaven, he is out of the three-time Group 1 winner Pride.
“He’s a gorgeous horse, very good looking. He’s moving well at home and I’m very happy with him. He’s bred to be a middle-distance horse in the fullness of time and he’ll be one we’ll look to start off in a seven furlong or mile maiden later in the season.”

Unnamed colt
Bay Colt; ShowcasingJust Joan
The first foal out of a winner from the family of Wannabe Grand.
“He’s a strong, good-looking colt that is moving well at home. He’ll be one to start off over six furlongs in the middle part of the season I’d imagine. He shows good pace at home, but I could see him getting further than sprint trips in due course.”

Unnamed colt
Bay Colt; Siyouni - Eavesdrop
The first foal out of a half-sister to the top-class sprinter Kingsgate Native.
“He’s a very nice colt that has been showing plenty of pace so far. He should be ready to debut in the middle part of the season and we’ve very much been liking what we’ve seen from him so far.”

Class of 2020: Joseph O'Brien
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