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Thursday 8 December 2016

Track Talk: Joseph O'Brien has done it all

Joseph O'Brien winning rider of Smuggler's Cove Dundalk Photo: Patrick McCann 10.10.2014
Joseph O'Brien winning rider of Smuggler's Cove Dundalk Photo: Patrick McCann 10.10.2014

CLASSIC winning jockey Joseph O'Brien looks to have a limited time left riding in Group One races on the Flat but in such a short space of time, the 21-year-old has already won over two-dozen Group One races including some of the biggest races in the world and regardless of what path his riding career now takes, he certainly has nothing left to prove.

Being the son of champion trainer Aidan O'Brien undoubtedly gave him a slight head start but whatever about riding for your father, you don't ride for the most powerful owners in the world of racing and the bloodstock industry if you don't cut the mustard so have no doubt that Joseph did indeed deserve to be riding at the level he did.

A champion jockey in the past, O'Brien achieved that despite the fact that he has always been heavier than ideal for flat jockeys so aside from the powerful string that he had to ride for his father, when you consider his services were available to a much smaller pool of horses as he rarely rode below 9st in the last couple of seasons, it's some achievement for him to reflect on being champion jockey.

DASHED

O'Brien jnr dashed from Limerick, where he had his first ride over jumps last Sunday, to get back to the Curragh to ride some of his father's major Classic contenders in their post racing gallops.

As the 20-plus riders that took part all huddled around the trainer, it was Joseph who towered above them all and the list of riders included some very fine National Hunt jockeys, and unfortunately for him, the time has just come for him to admit defeat when it comes to riding at 9st and being involved in the big Classics of the season.

Afterwards, Aidan admitted that 9st in the Guineas at the beginning of next month was going to be a massive ask as he has defied science for long enough to be able to not alone ride at 9st but to be as strong as he was when doing so as well.

Naturally, it's a tough pill to take as the rides on some of the best horses in the world of flat racing now look set to be Ryan Moore's but Joseph has nothing left to prove.

He has ridden for as long as he could at weights he shouldn't have been able to do and he has ridden big winners all around the world against some of the best riders of his generation.

Yes he'll still get a shiver when thinking about the Irish Champion Stakes when The Grey Gatsby wore down Australia and he'll regret not pulling his stick through on Gleneagles when the juvenile was thrown out of a race in France on Arc weekend, but take a look at the world class jockeys of late riding on the flat and you'll pick out Moore, Richard Hughes, Frankie Dettori, Pat Smullen, Johnny Murtagh and they all have a bit of age to them, so for the last three or four years Joseph has been riding at a level that was before his time and that should never be forgotten. What he does over jumps will be a bonus. He has said he can never see himself being a full time jump jockey but he'll ride away on his father's horses and see where it takes him and the best of luck to him.

And on the subject of weight cutting short the career of jockeys, we've seen Murtagh giving it up in the last couple of years and Hughes set to stop at the end of this season and both those men were associated with Eddie Lynam and Sole Power and how terrific it was to see him eventually break his duck in Dubai and win on the big stage again.

Getting him back from a prep run that was a shade disappointing was a fair feat and and the horse and his longevity at the top level has been a credit to Lynam you'd have to imagine he'll still have another big say in Group One company this summer.

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