"The lads saw he was going well, there were sore heads on the hill this morning" - O'Brien on miracle horse
The man with the golden touch.
Joseph O'Brien has been ascending through the training ranks at a rapid rate ever since he made the move from jockey to saddler less than two years ago.
The young Kilkenny based trainer enjoyed a hugely successful Dublin Racing Festival at the weekend. A weekend which really confirmed his arrival at the brow of the National Hunt training landscape.
The 24-year-old landed the biggest race of the bumper Leopardstown weekend. Edwulf, the miracle horse who nearly died at Cheltenham last year galloped relentlessly up the home straight to outstay Michael O'Leary's Outlander under an inspired ride from one of the best amateur jockeys of all time, Derek O'Connor in the Unibet Irish Gold Cup.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) February 4, 2018
JP McManus' 9-year-old went off at the bottom of the market at 33/1 in the big one. A rank outsider from the outside looking in, Edwulf had few friends in the parade ring. But O'Brien and his team in the Ownings stables in Piltown, Kilkenny know the lion-sized heart in this horse who'd cheated death. They'd seen the promise he was showing in the gallops over the last few weeks. They knew he'd be in with a chance in an open race.
"He was in really good form in training over the last few weeks," O'Brien told us this morning.
"All of the lads here, we knew he'd have a chance. In them big chases, there are so many variables, so anything can really happen.
Very, very special day today. For Edwulf to do that after the road he has travelled since Cheltenham last year is genuinely remarkable. Thank you so much to everyone that played a role along the way from the vets to all the team involved here. We won’t forget this one. pic.twitter.com/exMWBARFen
— Joseph O'Brien (@JosephOBrien2) February 4, 2018
"He was a huge outsider, sure he was 100/1 on Saturday the day before the race. A couple of the lads in the yard saw he was going so well so they had a few quid each way on him then. There were a few sore heads out on the hill this morning," he laughs.
He couldn't understate the importance of the jockey on board. O'Connor gave him a corker of a ride, timed to perfection.
"Derek is a great horse man, an unbelievable jockey and that was some ride he gave him."
— Derek O Connor (@DerekOConnor82) February 4, 2018
The overall weekend was a huge success for O'Brien. He landed the first race of the festival with 18/1 shot Tower Bridge on Saturday - that was his first ever Grade One win.
Then, we said it would be the first of many. By Sunday that statement was already ringing true.
He's a big backer of the Dublin Racing Festival, in its first year this year, and with attendance figures up on previous year's meetings, he praised all involved and is already buzzing for next year.
"It was brilliant. I had my two first Grade One winners there so it was a great weekend.
"The Dublin Racing Festival was a huge success and already, you just feel like it's a part of the Irish horse racing calendar and you'd already be looking forward to next year."
Now Joseph O'Brien is at the top of the National Hunt game. From winning the Galway Hurdle, the richest hurdle in Europe last year to the Grade One Irish Gold Cup at the weekend, he's announced his arrival.
From winning the 'race that stops the nation' - the Melbourne Cup last year to winning twice in the last three weeks with horses owned by Ronan O'Gara, he's at the top of the flat game too.
The young man is on top of horse-racing. And it seems like he's only going to go higher and higher.