Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 21 January 2018

Dream come true for O'Briens as Abbey nicks it

Joseph O'Brien became the youngest rider ever to win a Breeders' Cup race when he steered his father Aidan's St Nicholas Abbey to a famous success in the Turf at Churchill Downs last night.

It was the second winner of the night for Ballydoyle as Ryan Moore had earlier guided Wrote to glory in the Juvenile Turf event.

St Nicholas Abbey was settled in mid-division by his 18-year-old jockey, who showed maturity way beyond his years. The Montjeu colt picked up superbly when angled out for a run. Sea Moon and Moore had given chase to Brilliant Speed off the turn having missed the break, but St Nicholas Abbey was always going well and swamped them both, stretching clear in tremendous style.

A clearly moved Aidan O'Brien said: "It's very special, unbelievable. It was a wonderful ride, it's incredible. What can I say, he's an incredible rider. It's been one of the proudest days of my life, just unbelievable."

Joseph's mother, Anne-Marie, added: "I'm so excited, he gave it a super ride. It's fantastic. My heart was going 100mph, I could hardly stand up I was so nervous. We are so pleased to be here."

O'Brien junior rode his first winner in May 2009, and his first Group One winner in May this year on Roderic O'Connor in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. "Obviously there was a fair degree of nerves, but I was looking forward to it," said Joseph. "It's a dream come true. I was very happy with my position, I was very happy with the horse and he picked up when it mattered.

"I've been coming to the Breeders' Cup since I was very small, but to ride here and to ride a winner here is something you can only dream about -- it's out of this world. I owe a big thank you to the owners for giving me the opportunity."

O'Brien has conceded his future will lie over jumps at some point, as he stands 5ft 11in tall. But he added: "I'll keep riding on the Flat for as long as possible, and take it from there."

O'Brien's So You Think failed to make the places in the Classic, but travelled well for a long way and was far from disgraced behind Drosselmeyer.

Three times a winner of the showpiece event, Goldikova finished a gallant third on the final start of her career in the Breeders' Cup Mile, won by huge outsider Court Vision. "For two strides Olivier thought she was going to win again, but then she was gone," trainer Freddie Head said of his 14-time Group One winner.

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