The Irish Derby fell to a pair of young brothers from the famed O’Brien family as Latrobe sprang a 14-1 surprise. The previously low-profile colt is trained by 25-year-old Joseph and was ridden here by 19-year-old Donnacha, the pair combining to defeat their father, Aidan, who trained the next four horses home.
O’Brien Sr’s Saxon Warrior was favourite for this ever since the Epsom equivalent, when the rollercoaster layout was blamed for his disappointing effort. This time he undermined his chance by getting on edge in the preliminaries, jig-jogging round the paddock and sweating up.
His stablemate Rostropovich set what appeared a steady pace, presumably to avoid stretching Saxon Warrior’s suspect stamina. No jockey was more alive to that than Donnacha O’Brien, who initially settled Latrobe in mid-pack but soon allowed him to stride on and settle in second place.
“That was the winning and the losing of the race,” said Joseph. “He had a perfect posi all the way and he committed him at the perfect time. The horse is tough and he stays well.”
O’Brien Sr appeared just as happy as if he had won the race and perhaps even a bit more relaxed than on the dozen occasions when he actually has done so, since on this occasion he did not have to worry about saying the right thing about the successful colt. He is still only 48 and there are other Irish Derbys in his future but he is evidently going to face stiff competition from family members.
“It was something I couldn’t dream of,” he said. “There was good horses and good riders on either side of the two lads and they didn’t surrender all the way up the straight. I can’t tell you how delighted we are. It’s an unbelievable special day.
“Obviously, I was hoping that the two lads would keep going. It would have been a sickener for us to chin the lads because they work very hard and it’s day in, day out. We know how tough it is and how hard the competition is.”
This is Joseph O’Brien’s third year with a licence. To have won an Irish Derby, an Irish Gold Cup and a Melbourne Cup in the space of eight months is extraordinary but it seems not to have turned his head. “I could never have dreamt I’d have won those races by now,” he said. “I’m just in a very, very good position, really.”
Meanwhile, Donnacha O’Brien has come of age as a jockey this year. He has won three Classics in two months, having also landed the 2,000 Guineas and the Oaks in Britain.
The Melbourne Cup has been touted as the long-term target for Latrobe, who has an Australian owner, but that must be in some doubt now. His trainer thinks a mile and a half is his ideal trip, which suggests Ascot’s King George and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will be under consideration. Definite plans were put on hold while the family went off to celebrate.