Brothers bask in Derby glory
O’Brien delays plans for Curragh hero Latrobe after ‘unbelievable’ triumph
Joseph O'Brien reflected on one the greatest days of his life the morning after saddling Latrobe to claim Irish Derby glory.
O'Brien is no stranger to big-race success, having won multiple Group Ones and Classics during his riding days before turning his attentions to the training game in 2016.
And, in the last 12 months, the dual-purpose handler has won a Melbourne Cup with Rekindling and an Irish Gold Cup with Edwulf. But this was extra-special as Latrobe provided him with his first Classic victory as a trainer.
Ridden by his brother Donnacha, the Camelot colt saw off four runners trained by their father Aidan O'Brien to record a famous triumph.
"It was an unbelievable day. For the horse to win and Donnacha to ride him was special. It was right up there with any day in my life really," said the delighted trainer.
"We thought we had a good chance of finishing in the first four. We were going to drop in, but there was no speed on, so Donnacha let him move forward and slot in second. That was probably the winning of the race. We loved the horse from day one."
O'Brien paid tribute to his brother, who was winning his third Classic of the season after winning the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saxon Warrior and the Investec Oaks at Epsom on Forever Together.
"I can't actually remember the last day Donnacha rode out in my yard. He's in Ballydoyle every day of the week but he rides work for me when we take the horses away.
"He obviously rides a lot of them on the track and we speak to each other pretty much every day. We're very close in that regard.
"Donnacha is probably a bit more relaxed than I ever was. He takes things in his stride and he's probably a bit more dedicated with his weight.
"He appreciates that he's not going to be able to ride forever and he makes the most of what he can when he can."
O'Brien is in no rush to firm up future targets for Latrobe, adding: "Obviously there's all the good races for him. He'll probably have to step up again to take on the older horses. We hadn't thought much further than the Derby, so we'll enjoy it for a few days and regroup this week."
Latrobe outstayed the Ballydoyle quartet Rostropovich, Saxon Warrior, Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon, in that order, to lead home an O'Brien 1-2-3-4-5 in Ireland's premier Flat race.
Joseph O'Brien was calling Latrobe his 'Derby' horse before Cheltenham in March and, though he never made it to Epsom, it was a masterstroke by the 25-year-old trainer to give the Camelot colt a confidence-boosting run in a maiden on his previous start instead of going to Epsom.
The 14/1 shot was handy all the way, sitting on Rostrovopich's quarters as the Ballydoyle pacemaker cut out the running.
Silvestre de Sousa was busy soon enough on the Epsom runner-up Dee Ex Bee (seventh) and, though Old Persian (sixth) threatened to get involved two out, it was Saxon Warrior, the evens favourite, which emerged as the biggest threat inside the final furlong.
But, though he finished one place closer than he did at Epsom, the 2,000 Guineas winner could never quite get on terms and at the line Latrobe seemed to be going away again to win by half a length.
Donnacha O'Brien said: "I didn't plan to be that forward, but the pace was slow. I held that position and he stayed really well. It's pretty incredible and not really sinking in yet."
Aidan O'Brien, who also had to settle for second in Melbourne, appeared genuinely happier to be beaten by his sons than he would have been beating them.
"Incredible - an unbelievably special day," he said. "The two lads work so hard day in, day out and Irish racing is very hard. I was hoping all the way up the straight we wouldn't chin him, but if we had they'd have been as pleased for us as we are for them."
The Ballydoyle maestro also had to settle for second-best in the Pretty Polly Stakes yesterday as British challenger Urban Fox caused a minor upset by getting the better of 4/6 favourite Forever Together.
O'Brien fielded three of the six runners in all and it was his Epsom third Bye Bye Baby which took the field along, with Forever Together second and the William Haggas-trained Urban Fox third under Danny Tudhope. It was clear rounding the home turn that Urban Fox was travelling much the best of that trio and, turning out just 11 days after finishing fourth in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes at Royal Ascot, the 9/1 shot powered up the straight to record a comprehensive three-and-a-quarter-length success.
Flag Of Honour led home a Ballydoyle one-two in the Comer Group International Curragh Cup.
Ryan Moore sent 7/2 shot Flag Of Honour straight to the lead and while his better fancied stablemate Giuseppe Garibaldi (11/8 favourite) did his best to close the gap late on under Seamie Heffernan, there was a length and a half between them at the line.
The victory completed a treble on the day for O'Brien and Moore following the earlier Group-race victories of So Perfect and Yucatan.