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Aidan O’Brien - Trainer - Racehorse TALK

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« Last Edit: 2014-Apr-23, 01:51 AM by Authorized »

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« 2014-Apr-08, 12:11 PM Reply #1 »
It’s been an increasing trend at Ballydoyle to keep a strong contingent of older horses in training either because, as some maintain, there has been a change of policy from the Coolmore brains trust, or simply because most of O’Brien’s best horses are now by stallions whose progeny improve with age. Either way, it is exciting to see the Derby winner Ruler Of The World around as a  4-year-old, not to mention the Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician. Both disappointed in Dubai, but that will soon be just a statistic, in all likelihood.

While O’Brien’s numbers are phenomenal, they still don’t fully capture the impact he has on the sport. His mercurial personality inspires a strong prior that every move he makes has something of genius about it, even when it makes you scratch your head. Some of O’Brien’s strategies with pacemakers, for instance, have been utterly bizarre to this observer’s understanding of pace, but there is often good business sense for Coolmore behind what seems to be a bad bet for Ballydoyle.

Finally, permit me to depart from the rational. To the scientific mind, every cause should have its measurable effect, every change its tangible force, and every result its discernible process. If there is something beyond that, something humans with the nebulous gift can bring to bear in their influence over a horse – which numerous horsemen swear there is – then O’Brien must have it. I’ll admit to being deeply suspicious of its existence, but I have never forgotten the feeling of a one-time encounter with O’Brien in a private audience at Ballydoyle. He told me about his take on the racehorse’s mind with the kind of intensity and descriptive animation that I have never heard anyone else own in any field of endeavour in which I have been interested.

The unmeasurable, the indefinable, the irrational is quite often a conceit of man, but, if there is a gift to training racehorses, above and beyond method and attention to detail, O’Brien has it. And If he doesn’t, I swear nobody else does.

James Willoughby

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« 2014-Apr-23, 09:19 AM Reply #3 »

Bart's stats with So You Think versus this trainer may need to be pointed out to that writer....

As should a Melbourne Cup fiasco...


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« 2014-Jun-08, 02:22 AM Reply #4 »
Aiden O'Brien is pure unadulterated class.

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« 2015-Aug-25, 04:58 PM Reply #5 »
David o'meara

David O'Meara: "I have never been approached by anyone at Coolmore"

 PICTU Edward Whitaker (

O'Meara quashes Ballydoyle rumours

THE hottest rumour in racing was on Monday night firmly quashed byDavid O’Meara as one of the sport’s most highly respected and widely admired young trainers poured cold water on intense speculation linking him with a move to Ballydoyle.

The whispers suggesting Aidan O’Brien, the most successful Flat trainer of the modern era, could leave the John Magnier-owned Ballydoyle have become rife in recent days, making their way into the written press, television and social media.

Racecourse gossip during last week’s Ebor meeting culminated in two newspapers, one in Britain and one in Ireland, linking O’Meara with the most coveted post in his profession.

With Coolmore and Ballydoyle sticking to their long-held policy of not commenting on speculation, there remained the possibility for it to continue, but the North Yorkshire-based O’Meara – who has trained more than 500 winners despite taking out his licence only in 2010 – on Monday repudiated the rumours in unequivocal terms.

Speaking to the Racing Post, he said: “I have never been approached by anyone at Coolmore regarding Ballydoyle. There is no substance to the rumour.” 

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« 2015-Aug-25, 10:26 PM Reply #6 »
thank god for that i was worried sick

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« 2015-Aug-26, 02:30 AM Reply #7 »

Someone was just tinkin out loud about just tinkin

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« 2018-Apr-03, 05:09 PM Reply #8 »

Excellence Runs Deep In O’Brien Family

By Chris McGrath

Fathers and sons, stallions and foals: the cycles as perennial as the mystery. “People or horses, it’s the same,” says Aidan O’Brien. “All those little things that go into it. Is it nature or nurture? The whole thing’s mad, really, if you think about it long enough.”

But that’s just what he is doing, sipping a coffee as the quiet of afternoon settles with the drizzle upon the yard outside. The horses are at rest, absorbing those increased mental and physical challenges by which–with the onset of another spring, however sluggish this year–O’Brien annually begins to unravel their innate potential.

Think about it he does, deeply. Every day, after all, he controls the environment for some the most precious pedigrees on the planet. Every day, above all with the young horses, he asks questions that can change the amber lights of their internal, genetic traffic either red or green.

“And you’re right in the middle of that, at the moment,” he explains. “You have to be very careful. You can lose a horse very quick–by not pushing enough, or pushing too much. Some of them, mentally, need to be pushed. Because if you don’t push them, they’ll get bold; and if they get bold, they become ungenuine. So some of them you have to push a little bit, to keep on top of them; and some of them, you have to back off.”

Almost invariably, of course, the lights turn green: one crossroads cleared after another, his charges thriving and thriving, passing landmarks in such a blur that nowadays people barely stop to think about what they represent.

It took something beyond even the giddy standards he has made routine during his tenure at Ballydoyle, now into its third decade, to renew a due sense of wonder in 2017: 28 Group or Grade 1 winners, surpassing the world record of 25 set by the late Bobby Frankel. Yet if many of these winners extended the hegemony of his employers’ champion stallion, Galileo, the real sire of the year at Ballydoyle was perhaps O’Brien himself.

His son Joseph never received due credit during his time as stable jockey. If he won a Derby, or a riding title, then it was because he had access to the conveyor belt of stars trained by his father for Coolmore. Yet to those who could bring both detachment and expertise to their judgement, Joseph was arguably as good a horseman as they had seen since his father’s namesake and predecessor at Ballydoyle, Vincent O’Brien, was legging up Lester Piggott.

As a still “longer” fellow, Joseph’s physique meant he burned as briefly as he did brightly in the saddle. As a fledgling trainer, however, he has maintained a seamless excellence. His Melbourne Cup success last November with Rekindling (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}) was a seismic moment. Here was a 3-year-old colt who had won the Ballysax S. on Apr. 8, and had since soaked up a series of gruelling races, cutting down the Ballydoyle runner in the final strides. Still only 24, Joseph now finds himself coolly presiding over one of the biggest operations in the country.

“He’s very busy and has a great team with him,” O’Brien says. “He lives and breathes it, and every year that goes by will be good for him. He will never be afraid to ask, about the smallest thing, and will always take what you say very strong–but he’ll make his own mind up then. When we went to Melbourne, for instance, he didn’t think what we were doing would suit his horse and did something totally different. He’s very natural; never did anything else, or thought about anything else. From when he was very small he’d be looking in the face of horses more than he was a human being.”

So who, again, can say where nature ends and nurture starts? In whatever ratio, their upbringing is equally evident in Joseph’s siblings. Unfortunately Donnacha, not yet 20 himself, faces a still tougher battle with weight than Joseph. As such, it would be gratifying to see his own talent rewarded on the big stage for such time as he can maintain a role riding at 9st.

But the dynasty founded by O’Brien and his wife, Annemarie, herself a champion horsewoman, is incidental to those he is cultivating professionally. And that, entering a new turf season, is the top item on the Ballydoyle agenda.

For with Montjeu long dead and Galileo entering the evening of his career, O’Brien is gaining new stimulation from twin imperatives tracing to their sire Sadler’s Wells. One is to help his grandsons establish their own eligibility, as heirs, now that they are at stud themselves; and the other is to help John Magnier and his partners identify the most fertile outcross for all the outstanding mares they have assembled at Coolmore from the same bloodline.

In that context, perhaps the two most significant members of the Classic crop at Ballydoyle are Saxon Warrior (Jpn) and September (Ire), both by the Japanese phenomenon Deep Impact (Jpn) out of Group 1 winners trained by O’Brien. Saxon Warrior is out of the Galileo mare Maybe (Ire), who was a top-class juvenile; while September is out of Peeping Fawn, who did not run at two but won four Group 1 prizes in eight weeks during her only summer on the track. And she is also by the stallion whose own success gave the farm a contemporary foil to Sadler’s Wells, in Danehill.

“The sample has been very small,” O’Brien says of the few Deep Impacts he has handled to date. “And this year we have a big horse and a small filly. It’s going to be very interesting. We love it when the lads do all those strange things and bring in different stock, because you get a feel very quick for character and physique, the way they take their work, the way they move.”

“Deep Impact is a horse that came from this part of the world, in that the Nagles bred his dam [Wind In Her Hair (Ire) (Alzao)]. They’re natural horses; I suppose what makes them a little bit different is that Deep Impact won over a mile and seven. ‘JM’ is very pro, at the moment anyway, and nobody thinks about it more than he does. The broodmare band is getting bigger and stronger all the time, and it’s very interesting listening to him about all that [i.e. outcross options].”

“Nobody understands it like he does, because he’s brought it all along; and nobody has the knowledge of pedigrees he has. And he’s trying stuff all the time: looking at stuff, pulling back from stuff, going into stuff. I’d presume it’s like feeling your way through a fog, touching here and touching there, feeling this and feeling that, tweaking this and tweaking that; listening to me and listening to you. He gets all the information and it’s very interesting what he picks up on, what he decides the horses need.”

Saxon Warrior, favourite for the G1 Qipco 2000 Guineas after narrowly preserving his unbeaten record in the G1 Racing Post Trophy, has evidently developed into a formidable physical specimen; whereas September has the kind of nimble build that would compound her appeal as an Epsom filly. After winning at Royal Ascot, she resumed her progress when restored to a faster surface in the G1 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket and the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at Del Mar, flying late on both occasions.

“September is an unusual one, really,” O’Brien says. “Her dam was a big powerful mare, but she’s not very big. What she does have is a big attitude, a big personality, and she’s a good mover. We’re just dawdling with her really, at the moment, but we’re obviously thinking of the [Qipco 1000] Guineas to kick her off.”

The outcross that was really beginning to hum for Coolmore, of course, was Scat Daddy (Johannesburg)–rendering his abrupt loss at just 11 all the more tragic. The quest for an heir to the Ashford stallion has a corresponding urgency. No Nay Never (Scat Daddy), who is about to have his first runners, has now been joined at Coolmore by Caravaggio (Scat Daddy), while O’Brien will be hoping that he could yet find another star among their sire’s final crop.

“We have four of them going very nice at the moment,” he says. “They look like they could be group horses but, listen, they’re half-speeding. Scat Daddy has been a massive influence for speed, and we think the No Nay Nevers are very like Scats. They probably might be lower movers. Scats can bend their knee a little bit but these are lower-actioned. Which is a good thing. And they’re showing plenty of pace.”

O’Brien is also now savouring the chance to work with sons of Declaration Of War (War Front), who so nearly crowned Coolmore’s commitment to his sire, as another outcross, when beaten a nose and a head in the 2013 GI Breeders’ Cup Classic on his dirt debut.

“War Fronts are naturally very quick horses, very like the Danzigs we had early on,” he says. “Declaration Of War is getting hardy horses, I think they’ll stay better than some War Fronts and they’ll do very well from two to three.”

The second half of this interview will appear in Tuesday’s TDN.

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« 2018-Apr-03, 05:12 PM Reply #9 »

O’Brien Relishing Search for Sadler’s Heir

By Chris McGrath

This is the second part of a wide-ranging interview with the record-breaking master of Ballydoyle. Read the first part here.

Nothing succeeds like succession. With each year that passes, Aidan O’Brien’s tenure at Ballydoyle increasingly defines an epoch on the modern Turf. And, in the process, he is able to savour a new form of fulfilment: the regeneration of brilliance, as his champions past embark on their stud careers.

Certainly, the 2012 Derby winner Camelot (GB) (Montjeu {Ire}) made a promising start with his first juveniles last year. Having stayed in training at four–a sporting decision that didn’t really pay off–Camelot has the 2014 Epsom winner, Australia (GB) (Galileo {Ire}), following hard on his heels at stud. That gives O’Brien the opportunity to renew comparisons between the stock of their mighty patriarchs.

“The Camelots are very much on the stamp of Montjeu,” he says. “And the Australias look very much on the stamp of Galileo: very relaxed horses, doing everything lovely and smooth, they have great minds. Camelots are like Montjeu, they have a lot of nervous energy and we think this year we’ll see the best of them. We thought they’d be back-end 2-year-olds and middle-distance 3-year-olds. That can change. But there’s a lot of Montjeu in them, to train, and we think there will be to race, that’s why we’re so looking forward to them this year.”

“I suppose what made Camelot unusual is that it was very rare for a Montjeu to be able to win the Guineas. Galileos have always been very genuine, every single day they give you everything, and that’s the way he always was. But Montjeus were highly strung, with a lot of nervous energy. And these Camelots are very like him: they’re very active, very light on their feet, they handle all types of ground and can produce that bit of brilliance for a middle-distance horse.”

As O’Brien points out, that acceleration could also be seen in the grandson of Montjeu who gave him a surprise sixth success in the Derby last year, Wings Of Eagles (Fr) (Pour Moi {Ire}). It is always fascinating to hear how, being so familiar with these recurring traits, O’Brien modulates his approach accordingly: Camelot himself, for instance, being a template for his handling of the Montjeu line.

“Because Camelot would easily turn himself inside out, we didn’t ask him too much,” O’Brien recalls. “He just came there very quick, in the middle of the summer, it shocked us a little bit because we wanted him really for the last quarter of the season. So after he won his maiden we stopped on him, we didn’t want to put him through those 2-year-old races in the middle of the season. Even though he was a Montjeu, he wanted to do it and we didn’t let him really; we didn’t want to do that to him.”

“Galileos, you could run them over six furlongs and there’d not be a bother on them,” he says. “They might get beat, but it wouldn’t harm them. But it maybe wouldn’t be the right thing to do with a Montjeu. What makes Galileo different is that mental genuineness. That gene is so strong, it’s unbelievable the way it comes through. They can be all types of physicals, but whatever’s in their mind makes them so determined, so genuine. Montjeus have that other kink: they have the brilliance, but you just have to be a little bit more careful with them.”

For all the competition among sons of Galileo joining him on his own farm, none has quite made a start to match that of Frankel (GB)–famously a Coolmore foal-share-over at Juddmonte. O’Brien is intrigued by the way Frankel’s sons have been carrying their speed over middle distances, and has corresponding expectations for one in his own care, Nelson (Ire). Just run out of the G2 Royal Lodge by Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy), who subsequently ran so well against Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) at Doncaster, Nelson is out of G1 Irish Oaks winner Moonstone (GB) (Dalakhani {Ire}). While her son US Army Ranger (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) failed to go on after finishing second in the 2016 Derby, Nelson looks an intriguing Epsom prospect himself.

“Nelson looks like he will get a mile and a half, and could get farther,” O’Brien says. “When John [Gosden]’s horse beat him at Newmarket, he was just getting going again at the line. With Frankel the stamina I imagine comes from Galileo. We had Powerscourt (GB) (Sadler’s Wells) out of that pedigree [half-brother to Frankel’s dam] and we felt he was best at a mile and a quarter.”

“But what makes Galileo different is that they have class as well as stamina,” he says. “Some staying horses you can get are slowish horses but keep going. But his have that ability to travel at a high cruising pace for a long time and then quicken off it. Frankel had that, he’d cruise at a very high tempo and maintain it and then go again if he had to: those were all Galileo qualities, if you saw him in his races.”

Given fast mares, on the Frankel model, Galileo has progressively proved capable of siring horses with outright sprint speed, last year producing his first elite winner at short of 7f when Clemmie (Ire) won the G1 Cheveley Park S. His one deficiency, in terms of his stock’s versatility, has so far been on dirt. O’Brien has spoken memorably in the past about Galileo’s discomfort when himself trying the surface, and it is an intriguing dimension of Coolmore’s outcross experiments that a better fit for dirt may result.

Ballydoyle’s two near-misses in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, Giant’s Causeway (Storm Cat) and Declaration Of War (War Front), both had feasible genetic antecedents. So who can say whether the influence of Sunday Silence, as grandsire, may yet enable Deep Impact–now looking such a promising outcross for Coolmore–to bring Galileo mares across? In the meantime, of course, the stable has a new dirt monster in Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy), such a spectacular winner of the G2 UAE Derby.

O’Brien knows that he will not be restrained by any want of adventure in his patrons. “We’re lucky that the lads aren’t frightened to have a go at things, to take a chance,” he says. “Because they’re very conscious that those pedigrees need to be knitted back together. Which is vital, for everyone.”

“When you go on the dirt, you do need a very hard mind; and a lot of natural pace, a kind of coarse pace,” says O’Brien. “You know, it’s a different thing: it’s rugged, tough, where often the grass horses can be milder in their mentality, and kinder. But listen, it’s all a changing environment as you go along, dipping you toe in and out.”

Should O’Brien happen to go on and win a GI Kentucky Derby, or a Breeders’ Cup Classic, it should be pretty obvious to everyone–by this stage of his career–just why that could be. For the key to this man is that his humility is every bit as unrelenting as his achievement. So often, high achievers in sport are driven by an egotistical thirst to dominate their peers. Perhaps, among horsemen at any rate, personalities of that type would actually achieve more if clearing their decks of vanity in the same way.

It is telling that O’Brien’s principal satisfaction, when Saxon Warrior took him past Bobby Frankel’s record at Doncaster, was simply to have his daughter Ana present. She had been seriously injured in a terrifying race fall in Killarney back in July.

“That was the greatest thing about the day,” he says. “We knew we could go to the end of the year without winning another Group 1, everyone was very conscious of that. But the only thing that mattered was that Ana said she wanted to go racing. For the horse then to win, on top of that, was great–but to have Ana there, that was the most unbelievable thing of all.”

“Ana had so many things she had to pass through, to say she was going to be okay,” he recalls. “The reality of life is that all the stuff we’re doing and talking about, every day, it’s only stuff. None of it matters. Money, work, everything’s stuff. It makes no difference whatsoever, winning or losing, when we’re just so lucky to get through days like that [at Killarney].”

For the rest, he sets himself the same standards as he does his children, or his horses. Whatever hand they have all been dealt by nature, all you can do is be conscientious about the nurture–and then only day by day. Records? They can take care of themselves.

“All we think of is doing our best,” he stresses. “I promise we don’t ever think of anything like that. You just try and make the decision you think right on the day. You might look back and say: ‘I shouldn’t have done that.’ But all you can do, on the day, is make the decision you think best there and then.”

“It’s all the same, horses and people,” he notes. “You’ve all the families, some have the same traits but because the gene pool is so massive they won’t all have the same genes. Then the environment they were in, up along, mightn’t be the same. So they might have had different experiences that either shut genes or kick them off.”

“With horses, you’re trying to switch on genes that aren’t switched on; and maybe shut down the ones that aren’t in the right place,” says O’Brien. “It’s a very fine line, really. Everything depends on the character and the mentality of those horses. Like human beings, they’re all made up of different things. Every single one of them is different. And there’s no law.”

So there’s the secret: that there is no one secret. Yes, those priceless Coolmore pedigrees give him a palette of vivid paints; but the trainer treats each horse as a blank canvas. And that’s what makes springtime so special. “This time of year, anything is possible,” O’Brien says lightly. “Anything.”

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« 2018-Jun-05, 09:44 PM Reply #10 »

Aidan O’Brien: the man, his methods, his beliefs, the Derby and his horses

By Andy Stephens

Wed 30 May 2018

Champion trainer Aidan O’Brien will seek a record-equalling seventh Investec Derby success at Epsom on Saturday. Andy Stephens spent a morning with him on the gallops at Ballydoyle.

Saxon warrior - aidan o'brien - ballydoyle - racingfotos
Saxon Warrior and Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle (Racingfotos)

It is 7.45am on a mild Monday morning at Ballydoyle and Aidan O’Brien is watching first lot go through their paces.

Seventy regally-bred thoroughbreds are exercising in close vicinity in serene surroundings that have been a playground for a dozen Derby winners.

The noise of air being inhaled and exhaled through flared equine nostrils, not to mention 280 limbs flicking over the all-weather gallop, is intoxicating. There are few places on earth any racing enthusiast would rather be.

One horse is out on his own and catches the eye. O’Brien volunteers that it is Saxon Warrior, the odds-on Investec Derby favourite, and the powerfully-built colt is a sight to behold as he powers past under regular work rider Richella Carroll.

“He’s very sober, a relaxed horse but sharp,” the champion trainer says.

“What I mean by that is that he reacts to things very quickly. He doesn’t have to go to first gear to second; to third, to fourth and then fifth. He can go from second to fifth in a flash. It’s an impulse, I suppose.

“Most horses live in the middle ground but he doesn’t. He sleeps, or he’s alive. It makes him different.”

As to why the unbeaten colt is more or less working solo, he adds: “He gets privileges at the moment. We don’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do.”

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Saxon Warrior is odds-on for the Derby on Saturday (Racingfotos)

There is no suggestion the 2,000 Guineas winner is tricky or resents the company of inferior workmates, but something O’Brien says later resonates.

“Very few horses are leaders, it’s like people,” he observes. “Most horses like to drop in with the crowd and go along with the crowd. People are the same.”

O’Brien has been out on his own almost since 1996 when he became the youngest person to win the Irish trainers’ championship, a title he has won continuously since 1998.

Still only 48, he is seeking a record-equalling seventh Investec Derby success on Saturday when Saxon Warrior will be joined by stablemates Delano Roosevelt, The Pentagon, Kew Gardens and Zabriskie.

His overall tally of victories at the highest level stands at an astonishing 302 heading into the two-day meeting at Epsom. His record haul of 28 Group One winners last year indicates he might reach 500 in the next decade.

Yet for all his domination you suspect that O’Brien, too, is at times happy to slide back among the pack.

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_Saxon Warrior is reshod under the gaze of his trainer _(Racingfotos)

This is a man who never craves attention or adulation, and always talks in quiet, measured tones. He never shows a hint of arrogance and accepts defeat graciously.

He praises his horses, staff, facilities and the owners - the Coolmore collective of John Magnier, Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith - but always falls short of praising himself.

He has been there, done that and got a suitcase full of T-shirts but 20-odd years of sustained success have not altered his understated manner.

“I’m a small cog in a big machine” became his default answer last autumn as he closed in on Bobby Frankel’s Group One record.

At one stage during our morning together he even goes as far as suggesting “if I hadn’t met Annemarie (his wife) I’d still be working for Jim Bolger.”

He and Annemarie have four children; two daughters in Sarah and Ana, and two Classic-winning jockeys in Joseph and Donnacha, and have come a long way since their early days when involved in National Hunt racing.

“We had a big interest in training jumpers, but we also always had an interest in the well-bred Flat horses,” he says.

“One of our big things was to be able to get those good pedigrees and to train those good horses.”

These days, virtually every animal in his care begins life with a significant genetic head start and Coolmore’s breeding empire, with star stallions at every turn and 500 broodmares alone based in Ireland, means he has a conveyor belt of brilliance to constantly attack the top races all over the globe.

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Trainer Aidan O'Brien has considerably more horses than predecessor Vincent O'Brien (Racingfotos)

Training bloodstock worth hundreds of millions of pounds brings inevitable stresses and strains but from the outside it appears the only person putting O’Brien under pressure is O’Brien himself.

A tortured genius?

He often strikes as an intense figure on the racecourse and, even on home soil, the coiled spring does not seem to completely unwind.

An example occurs when he talks to every rider as they return from working his string. Each is signed off with a “good man” or “good girl” and, for at least a minute, he is nervously rubbing his hands without seemingly being aware of the habit.

He is up by 5am every day and it might not be 10.30pm until he retires. His mobile phone is never switched off. Seven days a week; month after month; year after year. It is an unrelenting cycle.

His long days revolve completely around his horses and those closest to him, with his extended family being the 190 staff at Ballydoyle. Impressively, he seems to know the names of them all.

When press photographers ask O’Brien to pose with Saxon Warrior, he insists that the first snaps are instead of horse and groom. A small gesture, but one that speaks volumes.

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Saxon Warrior with groom Richella Carroll (Racingfotos)

His manners cost him nothing but earn him the respect and loyalty of everyone.

It is difficult to gauge whether O’Brien’s meticulous methods have taken a personal toll but he hints that in the past he has paid for letting his batteries dwindle.

“I have found that without rest, you will be broken up emotionally and physically,” he says. “There is an awful lot of stuff going on every day and you have to be as clear as you can and sleep is important for that. I try and sleep whilst we are travelling and empty my mind at night.

"I take everything one day at a time and don't take anything for granted. Circumstances change things for everyone in the end, but we'll keep doing our best until we have any changes.”

His good time, as he describes it, is in the early evening when he will wander around the 14 yards that make up a base where champions such as Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Alleged, Roberto, El Gran Senor, Roberto and The Minstrel were moulded before him.

Six are for the older horses, with the other eight being for two-year-olds or horses who require isolation or a period of quiet. O’Brien’s home is in the middle of it all.

In total, there are 200 boxes. His predecessor, the legendary Vincent O’Brien, no relation, who first trained here in 1951, never had more than about 60.

O’Brien talks of friendly rivalry between the respective yards and on occasions the A Team is upstaged by something in the B Team. That happened last year when Wings Of Eagles, a 40-1 chance, gave him his sixth Derby success at the main expense of stablemate Cliffs Of Moher, who started favourite.

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Groom Kurram Sheikh puts the sheet on to U S Navy Flag (Racingfotos)

"The stables are divided up into colts and fillies,” he says. “We then separate the best colts, the second-best colts and the third-best colts. They can't all be in one yard so we have to separate them up and the top colts are in the Giant's Causeway yard.

"When we go away to America (for the Breeders’ Cup), Ballydoyle is emptied and washed out and painted for a new year. There is then a pecking order which the lads decide as to what horse ends up in one yard.

"A lot of thought goes into all of this and wherever the horse lands, they stay there for the year. There is no promotion or relegation.”

O’Brien is content for others to have the final say. “I watch, listen and smile,” he says. “I might not always agree with it (who goes where) but I let it happen. I can often see where there could be a very good horse in the second yard but that’s great for the people in there because I know they have a chance of having a big horse, and they’d know that as well.

“That’s what keeps them going because they’d love to have a horse better than in the No 1 yard. It’s a friendly rivalry, but at the same time intense. That’s the way life is, isn’t it?”

All the time O’Brien is talking, alarms on his phone are going off and there is regular interaction on walkie talkies.

At 9.48am he gets a call asking about overnight declarations and after a brief chat about weather conditions at the track in question, passes on his instructions and asks that Ryan Moore is informed.

It seems late to be making decisions about running plans - the cut-off time is 10am - but today he is ahead of schedule.

“Things can change ten times in the minutes before 10am,” he says, having moved into the indoor barn where Capri, the St Leger winner, is rearing up on two legs to show his impressive grey physique. “It could go down to maybe the last ten seconds before.”

Then it is back outside to see his impressive battalion of two-year-olds who, because it’s been such a wet spring, have yet to gallop on turf.

One spooks and it causes a domino effect. O’Brien turns horse whisperer and offers calm, soothing reassurance. “Gently lads. Talk to them. Take your time. Steady. Take your time lads. Just talk to them.”

He is learning about each of the youngsters day by day and trying to get inside the heads of each.

“There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to training,” he says. “You are trying to find the key to every horse and the craziest things can work sometimes.

“They are made up of all these different genes and you have to find methods to kick them off. With some horses you never learn the key but if you have the best people around, all working with the best interests of the horse in mind, then you have a better chance of making it happen.”

Eighteen years ago, O’Brien was unlocking the brilliance of Galileo. He was in the infancy of his training career but he handled the son of Sadler’s Wells with precision and in 2001 the colt went on to give him his first Derby triumph.

Subsequently, Galileo has gone on to become the Daddy of all sires with many of his gifted sons and daughters keeping O’Brien ahead of the pack.

Aged 20, Galileo is still going strong at Coolmore, the centre of equine excellence owned and run by the Magnier family, which is about half an hour from Ballydoyle.

Sadler’s Wells was active in the breeding sheds until the age of about 25 and all the signs are that Galileo will emulate him. He remains a strong, passive individual who dislikes his ears being touched but enjoys having his teeth scratched.

He might perhaps help produce another 800 offspring before his time as a stallion is up, although the odds on him fathering another blessed with as much ability as the freakish Frankel, himself now excelling at stud, seem slim.

"He’s been the most incredible stallion and all of his horses seem to have real courage about them,” O’Brien says.

Galileo has sired three Derby winners and two for O'Brien - Ruler Of The World (2013) and Australia (2014). He is also responsible for New Approach (2008) - and features in the pedigrees of the past six 2,000 Guineas winners.

He has consistently stamped his horses with speed, stamina, good looks and calm temperaments.

The challenge for Coolmore has been mixing up the chemistry and they might just have come up with a game changer in getting access to Deep Impact, the Japanese middle-distance champion, for their Galileo mares.

Saxon Warrior, out of Maybe, is one of three Deep Impact offspring at Ballydoyle - the others are September and Conclusion - but plenty more will soon arrive.

Multiple Group One winners Minding and Winter are in foal to him. So are Maybe's sisters Fluff and Promise To Be True, plus Found's sister Best In The World.

“Deep Impact could be massive and is very exciting,” O’Brien said. “The world is a small place now so he will continue to be important to us.

"Saxon Warrior has a very strong blend of Danehill, Galileo and Deep Impact in him. Those three strong traits make him a horse that we haven't had before so he is very different.

"He is strong and powerful. He is built like a miler, but we always thought he would stay. He goes like a horse who will love middle distances. You can see all of those strong traits in him.”

In the distance is Deep Impact’s daughter, September. She appears extremely fresh and well but a tilt at the Investec Oaks had to be shelved because of a minor muscle problem in her back quarters.

”She wants to canter, but she’s not ready,” says O’Brien, his eye following her every step. “She’s a small filly with a big personality. She’s clean winded and we were looking forward to her for the Oaks. Maybe she will be OK for Royal Ascot.”

O'Brien does not drink alcohol and has few hobbies but is a regular church goer who encourages everyone to stay in contact with their beliefs.

“You can only control the things you can control and you don’t worry about the things you can’t,” he says. “You just hope there is a far greater power there that might help control the things you can’t.

“That’s the reality of life for us all, really. Everyone has their own beliefs and nobody knows who is right or wrong but it’s always a help if somebody has a belief.

“We do our best of what we do every day and then if there is extra help out there we are always very grateful for it. If everyone says a prayer it doesn’t matter what it is, or to who it is, it’s always a help for us all.

“Have a prayer, learn a prayer and say it. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or you don’t believe it. If you learn a prayer and say it every day it will be a help to you long term, we believe."

Does he pray for his horses? “No” he says.

It is difficult to believe he will do anything but train thoroughbreds but a final question, asking him if he can imagine a time when he won’t, draws a surprise response.

“Of course I can,” he says without hesitation. “And I’ll be taking it very easy when that does happen.”

But first of all there is another Derby to be won. Then another. Then another. The Ballydoyle win machine remains in the safest hands.

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« 2018-Jun-14, 06:28 PM Reply #11 »
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