As well as those top-level success on the Flat, which include but are not limited to the Irish Derby, Melbourne Cup and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mares Turf, Joseph O’Brien has enjoyed great success in the National Hunt sphere and that is something he hopes will continue long into the future.
Many tremendously successful trainers before him, most obviously and pertinently his own father, have begun focusing on the jumps but gravitated to the more lucrative Fat discipline. Given the stellar start to his career, it has already been mooted that O’Brien will follow suit. While time will prove that lure irresistible, the former champion Flat jockey is hopeful there will be much more to come in the National Hunt sphere.
“I’ve been very lucky,” said O’Brien, with the humility of an O’Brien. “Since I started training, I’ve been supported by some fantastic owners and I suppose I’ve been very lucky to stumble across some good horses.
“I have a great team of staff, great riders, and a great team on the ground here on the Hill and they are the people that make it happen.
“Training horses a very different lifestyle to riding. In fact, I’d say I get a better kick out of training a winner than riding a winner.
“There’s an awful lot more goes into it behind the scenes, and there’s considerably more pressure, I have found. But I really enjoy it and I’m lucky to have good horses to go to war with.
“I have more entries in the Dublin Racing Festival this year than last year, so I’d like to think that I’d be turning up at a few more. It’s very important to have young horses coming through.
“The novices and the bumper horses are the future so it’s very important you’re represented in those divisions and luckily this year we are.
“I think the timing of the weekend works extremely well, with the horses that might head off to Cheltenham and have come from Leopardstown at Christmas. And obviously the prize money is very good, and the racing is hugely competitive.”
Fakir D’oudairies provided O’Brien with his most recent Grade 1 success when winning the Drinmore at Fairyhouse in early December and is a leading fancy to follow up at the Dublin Racing Festival.
He found unbeaten chaser Notebook just too good when runner-up in a Grade 1 at the Christmas festival and could have his chance of gaining revenge in the ERSG Arkle Novice Chase, but O’Brien’s words urge some caution as he also holds an entry in the Flogas Novice Chase.
“We haven’t finalised where he runs but hopefully the ground will be on the easy side, and we’re looking forward to getting him out again,” revealed O’Brien.
“Touch wood, he has always been quite good jumping a fence and been quite natural since he started.
“He put up a great round of jumping that day (in Navan) and again at Fairyhouse but maybe he didn’t get into the same rhythm in Leopardstown last time as he had done before that, but hopefully we can get him back into that rhythm next time.
“He’s in good shape. I think the ground will probably help us make the final decision as to whether he’ll go for the Arkle or the two-mile-five race.
“We’ll have him in both races up until the last minute and make up our mind as late as we can.”