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Joseph's success beyond compare

5 min read
Forging his own frontiers, Joseph O'Brien looks to add further Australian glory when he saddles up Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) in Saturday's Seppelt Mackinnon S, at Flemington.

When Joseph O'Brien became the youngest-ever trainer to win a Melbourne Cup 12 months ago, the overwhelming impression he left in Australia was of a very mature mind on impossibly young shoulders.

Lloyd Williams knows a thing or two about pedigrees, having won six Melbourne Cups and countless other major races, and when he entrusted former jockey Joseph with his then promising 3-year-old Rekindling (GB) (High Chaparral {Ire}), he knew who he was getting involved with.

"Joseph has got a lot to live up to," Williams told RSN in an interview earlier this year in reference to the trainer's famous father Aidan.

"He's done really well at this particular time. He's training on the family property, and he's got great staff and terrific attention to detail which has been born into him by his family."

Joseph O'Brien and Lloyd Williams

"His grandfather Joe Crowley, Anne-Marie's father, trained on the family property. He's a successful trainer over there. He's steeped in tradition on both sides of the pedigree and he's got opportunity going forward. But he's got a great benchmark to live up to."

"He's got great staff and terrific attention to detail which has been born into him by his family." - Lloyd Williams on Joseph O'Brien

The 24-year-old trainer and 77-year-old owner made a triumphant if slightly incongruous pairing on the presentation dais after Rekindling won last year's Melbourne Cup. When Williams won his first Cup with Just A Dash in 1981, O'Brien was still 12 years away from being born, but thoroughbred racing intersects the generations more than any other sport.

While the owner represented the rich history of Australia's greatest race, O'Brien represented its future - young, talented and with a strong Northern Hemisphere pedigree.

This year's contender

O'Brien will saddle up his first Australian runner since that famous day on Saturday when Latrobe (Ire) (Camelot {GB}) tackles the Seppelt Mackinnon S. in Williams' famous navy and white colours.

Horse, trainer and owner combined back in June for another triumphant moment in O'Brien's young life when Latrobe won the Irish Derby, a race Joseph's father has won 12 times.

Williams, who has become very close to the entire O'Brien family in recent years described it as a great moment.

Watch: Latrobe win the 2018 Irish Derby

"It was something that gives you a lot of delight. They are an amazing family, an extraordinary family," he said in the days' after,

"I spent most of May over there with them and it’s quite extraordinary really. It's a racing dynasty that will continue for many, many years I would have thought."

"It's a racing dynasty that will continue for many, many years I would have thought." - Llyod Williams on the O'Brien family

At 25, Joseph had completed the remarkable feat of having won the Irish Derby as both a trainer and jockey. His first Irish Derby win as a jockey had come at the age of just 19 aboard Camelot, Latrobe's sire. That horse would also win the English Derby, as Aidan and Joseph become the first father and son to win that famous race.

Camelot is now standing at Coolmore

The inevitability of comparison

The comparisons between he and his father are as unrelenting as they are inevitable. Williams has seen most of the great trainers in his half a century in the game and knows sustained success is the only measure of a trainer's greatness.

"I know Aidan very well and it will be very difficult to be better than Aidan. I've been at this game for about 50 years and Aidan is the most committed racehorse trainer that I have ever seen in my life," Williams said back in July.

"I've been at this game for about 50 years and Aidan is the most committed racehorse trainer that I have ever seen in my life." - Lloyd Williams

Aidan O'Brien

"I think it’s a dreadful business being a racehorse trainer, you can never get away from it. If you want to be very good at it, it’s 24/7, it’s 52 weeks. It’s a rewarding business if you are successful, but if you are not successful, it is very tough business."

For all his success over the past 20 years, Aidan O'Brien has ridden the rollercoaster as well. Just this week, his Melbourne Cup-runner The Cliffsofmoher (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), owned by Williams, was euthanised after breaking a shoulder during the race.

In an industry with so much glory, tragedy can be a lot closer than you think.

Different years, different horses

People love to look for patterns in life and just like Joseph draws comparisons to Aidan, this year's contender always draws discussion of last year's champ.

Joseph O'Brien was at Werribee this week and was immediately asked about Latrobe's likeness to Rekindling.

Latrobe working at Werribee

“Rekindling was a guaranteed stayer. Latrobe is a less mature colt," was his reply.

“That’s why we decided he was a Mackinnon Stakes horse.”

“Rekindling was a guaranteed stayer. Latrobe is a less mature colt." Joseph O'Brien on the decision to bypass the Melbourne Cup

“We decided, after talking with Lloyd and Nick (Williams), not to go to the Cup because he doesn’t have near the miles in him that Rekindling had coming down here last season."

Given O'Brien's record in his short training career, and that famed pedigree, you would back him to have pulled the right rein.