It was odds-on that the name O’Brien would be found next to the winner of Saturday’s Group 1 Irish Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh, but it was Joseph O’Brien, not his father Aidan, who landed the spoils with the shock win of 14/1 shot Latrobe.
Ridden by Joseph’s younger brother Donnacha (pictured above), landing his third Classic success of a tremendous campaign, Latrobe had only won a maiden over course and distance just three weeks earlier and the son of Camelot was taking a massive step up in class. But already in his brief training career, Joseph O’Brien has shown how adept he is at producing horses to belie their odds in big races ; he won the Melbourne Cup last November with Rekindling (14/1), and the Irish Gold Cup Chase with Edwulf (33/1).
Latrobe did it the hard way at the Curragh, leading from over three furlongs out then fending off the persistent challenge of Aidan O‘Brien’s recent King Edward VII Stakes runner-up Rostropovich (25/1), and his stablemate and hot favourite, Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior (Evens f) by half a length and a neck.
“We had intended on taking our time a bit, but Donnacha let him go forward as there wasn’t much pace on and that was the winning and losing of the race,” noted the winner trainer. “He had a perfect position all the way, and committed him at the perfect time.
“The horse is tough and stays well. I have to thank everyone in the yard, especially Joey Fallon, who rides him out, and Lloyd and Nick [Williams, owners] have been so good to me. I’m so grateful and lucky. We always loved him and bought him as a yearling in Newmarket. From day one we loved him and he never really let us down.”
While Aidan O’Brien was obviously disappointed not to have won, he was full of fatherly pride in the tremendous achievement of his two young sons.
“It’s an unbelievably special day – you couldn’t dream of it. I know how hard they work and we know how hard it is and how tough the competition is. I’m over the moon. The two lads work so hard day in, day out.”
Latrobe is now a top priced 8/1 shot with 888sport for the St Leger at Doncaster on September 15, for which Aidan O’Brien’s recent Group 2 Queen’s Vase winner Kew Gardens is the current 6/1 ante-post favourite with Coral.
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.