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Highlights on Off The Ball

Joseph O'Brien looking to break more records in Melbourne Cup

There are precocious talents and then there is Joseph O'Brien. Saturday saw another record in the...

Joseph O'Brien looking to brea...

Joseph O'Brien looking to break more records in Melbourne Cup

There are precocious talents and then there is Joseph O'Brien. Saturday saw another record in the short career of a man who seems set to dominate the global horseracing landscape.

On Saturday night Joseph was the only European winning trainer at the two-day Breeders Cup meeting. He became only the fourth Irish trainer ever to win at the Breeders Cup when Iridessa won the Fillies and Mares under Wayne Lordan. The Owning handler was the third O'Brien after Vincent and his father Aidan, to achieve the feat. John Oxx the only other Irishman to do so.

O'Brien junior added the accolade of the youngest ever trainer to have a winner at the meeting. On St Nicholas Abbey in 2011 he was the youngest ever Breeders Cup winning rider too.


In 2017 at Flemington Joseph O'Brien became the youngest ever trainer of a Melbourne Cup winner when Rekindling won the race that stops a nation. (Can you spot the pattern yet?)

This year, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Dermot Weld's record as the only European dual winner of the Melbourne Cup could be next for the one nicknamed Jesus (son of God).

Weld trained Vintage Crop to become the first-ever European winner of the Melbourne Cup. The Rosewell trainer then followed up with Media Puzzle in 2002.

There will be a maximum 24 runners lining up for this year's renewal. Seven of them are trained in Ireland, four for Joseph and three for Aidan. There are a further four runners who were very recently trained in Ireland, including Mustajeer who won the Ebor at York for Ger Lyons.

The four runners for Joseph O' Brien are Master of Reality who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, Latrobe, the mount of James McDonald, Twilight Payment under Hughie Bowman and Downdraft who Irishman abroad John Allen will ride.


A win for Joseph O'Brien in the early hours of Tuesday morning will not be out of turn for him or indeed any European trainers. There have been three European winners in the last five years.

Given the programme of staying races available to European horses against that in Australia, the pattern is unlikely to change any time soon.

The last two runnings of the Melbourne Cup have seen a European trained 1-2-3 in the winners' enclosure. It could be fitting that ahead of Tuesday, one of the better form clues could come from the race named after the 1993 winner, Vintage Crop.

At Navan on April 28 this year, Master of Reality beat Mustajeer by a neck, Southern France was third and Twilight Payment fourth. All four line up at Flemington on Tuesday.


Joseph will soon be joined in the training ranks by his brother Donnacha, who will have quite a bit of catching up to do. Something unlikely to phase the younger man, given he's a dual champion jockey and multiple Group One winner. But the haul by Joseph is impressive nonetheless.

A remarkable feat potentially lies in store for Joseph O'Brien at Flemington on Tuesday morning. Should he add a second Cup to an overflowing trophy cabinet, the person to be least affected by the situation will be the man himself.

Success has bred success. Some in Irish racing lamented the dominance of Aidan O'Brien providing stars of the turf and subsequent stallions to swell the Coolmore breeding operation being an unstoppable training force.

The Master of Ballydoyle has now provided the likeliest threat to that success.

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Aidan O'brien Breeders Cup Horseracing Joseph O'Brien Melbourne Cup Racing