O'Brien family's joy
Aidan O'Brien and his jockey, Ryan Moore, dominated the three days of the Dubai Irish Derby weekend at the Curragh with nine winners, a treble each day.
However, they lost out in the big one, the Derby itself on Saturday, but seldom has a losing trainer seemed so happy as Aidan was pipped by his two sons, trainer Joseph and rider Donnacha, with Latrobe (14/1) in a remarkable race.
Twenty-five years-old Joseph had ridden two Irish Derby winners before weight issues forced him to quit the saddle and turn to training, which he has done with stunning success.
Latrobe is owned by Australian Lloyd Williams and he supplied Joseph with Rekindling last year and they went on to win the Melbourne Cup, relegating Aidan's Johannes Vermeer to second.
Donnacha is only 19-years-old and had already won the English 2,000 Guineas on Saxon Warrior and the Epsom Oaks on Forever Together for his father to collect three Classics in the past month.
The brothers won €855,000 for this success, while Aidan's four runners - Rostropovich (25/1), Saxon Warrior (1/1f), Delano Roosevelt (12/1) and The Pentagon (16/1) - filled the next four places to earn a total of €570,000 in prize money - what a clean sweep for the O'Briens.
The family were out in force and Aidan was busy afterwards organising the pictures that will have a special place in the family album, including the boys' mother, Anne Marie (a former champion trainer and rider herself), sisters Ana (happily recovered from last year's horrific racing injuries) and Sarah who have both ridden winners on the track, and pride of place in the parade ring celebrations going to Aidan's mother, Stella. What a proud day for this royal family of Irish racing.
Aidan and Ryan Moore warmed up for the Irish Derby weekend with a treble at the Curragh on Friday evening with Peach Tree (6/4f), Somerset Maugham (5/2f) by a nose from 33/1 shot, With Herself, and Lucius Tiberius (9/4f).
Jim Bolger did his bit to keep the Wexford flag flying by winning the Apprentice Derby with Dawn Hoofer, under Gavin Ryan, who is still studying for his Leaving Cert. and works with Bolger at weekends and during school holidays.
O'Brien and Moore maintained their strike-rate with another treble on Derby Day, even though they lost out to his sons in the big one as outlined earlier.
His winners were Battle of Jericho (7/1) by a short head in the €100,000 Tote Rockingham sprint handicap; Fleet Review (1/1f) in the €50,000 six furlongs dash, by a nose from stable companion Intelligence Cross (5/1), and Van Beethoven (9/10f) in the €115,000 Group 2 GAIN Railway Stakes.
O'Brien and Moore maintained their dominance on Sunday. In the €65,000 Group 3 Grangecon Stud Stakes over six furlongs, Moore got So Perfect (6/4f) up in the final strides; he led from the start on Yucatan (2/1f) in the €65,000 Group 3 Finlay Volvo International Stakes, beating Jim Bolger's Stellar Mass (9/2) by a length, and took the Group 2 €120,000 Comer International Curragh Cup with Flag of Honour (7/2) from stablemate Giuseppe Garibaldi (11/8f)..
However, they lost out in the featured Group 1 €250,000 Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes which went for export to Urban Fox (9/1) for William Haggas, well clear of the three O'Brien runners, led in by Forever Together (4/6f).
Joseph O'Brien also won another big one, his Band of Outlaws (7/1) taking the €50,000 mile handicap under Wayne Lordan.
Earlier in the week Aidan O' Brien had a double at Naas, including the €55,000 feature, the listed Irish EBF Oaks trial, which went to 16/1 outsider Easter Lily under Wayne Lordan, which won by a length from Willie McCreery's Mary Tudor (4/1).
O'Brien won the opener with Secret Thoughts (7/4jf) under son Donnchadh, by a head from Rita Levi (7/4jf) under Colm Keane.
Jim Bolger won the apprentice handicap with his eight-year-old veteran Wexford Opera (9/2), under Liam McAteer, the fifth career success for the horse and his first win for two years
Over the jumps, J.J. Slevin won the €25,000 feature race at Kilbeggan on Monday evening with a dynamic ride on Treasure Chest (12/1), trained by his cousin, Joseph O'Brien, for J.P. McManus.
He took up a narrow lead two from home but came under sustained pressure from the Willie Mullins-trained Lareena (8/1), and Slevin was all out to hold on by a short head.
After this there was a holiday break for all jumps racing, surely welcome after a long, tough year.
In Britain, P.J. McDonald had a winner for Mark Johnston in a fillies' handicap at Carlisle on Kalagia (6/4f) on Wednesday, and over the jumps, Daryl Jacob had a double at Worcester, on Jaleo (5/2) for Ben Pauling in a novice chase and on Black Kalinisi (13/8f) for Jim Tuite.