Sunday 25 February 2018

O'Brien also to train on the Flat

Joseph O'Brien (Getty Images)
Joseph O'Brien (Getty Images)
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Joseph O'Brien could soon find himself in direct competition with his legendary father Aidan after revealing that his burgeoning string on Carriganog Hill will comprise as many Flat horses as jumpers.

The tall 22-year-old dual champion jockey confirmed on Monday that he would no longer ride. He has yet to acquire a training licence, but the manner in which he has excelled with jumpers on behalf of his father and owner JP McManus at the family homestead in Owning, Co Kilkenny, had suggested that the stable could again be a force in that discipline.

However, O'Brien revealed on At The Races that he has as many Flat horses as jumpers among his string of 80. "We're pretty much 50-50 jumpers and Flat horses," he stated.

"We've got a nice bunch of two-year-olds and some National Hunt horses. My granddad (Joe Crowley) trained from here and both my mum (Anne Marie) and dad trained from here.

"The last couple of years we'd had horses back here and it's gone on from there. Mum is here most days so she is a huge help."

Reflecting on his record-breaking but fleeting riding career, O'Brien (right) nominated his Derby wins on Camelot and Australia and St Nicholas's Abbey's Breeders' Cup success as the highlights.

"Riding the winner of the Derby is something else," he said. "It's the history the race has and everything about it. It's very hard to equal the Derby. The Breeders' Cup is a huge stage and to ride there was unbelievable and to win there was something you wouldn't even dream about."

Paying tribute to O'Brien, Mick Kinane, an iconic predecessor at Ballydoyle, said: "For one so young he achieved an awful lot. He handled the pressure remarkably well. It's a very powerful stable but he had to get the job done. He should get the right support and he's training from a nice establishment. I'd expect him to be a success."

Meanwhile, Willie Mullins' Yorkhill has been trimmed from 10/1 to as low as 4/1 for Tuesday's Supreme Novices' Hurdle, though Ruby Walsh has stressed that he is still leaning towards partnering stable-mate and favourite Min, which has eased a little but is still generally no bigger than 2/1.

Brian Hayes will miss Cheltenham after fracturing his pelvis while riding out.

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