Vincent O’Brien, Jacqueline O’Brien and Aidan O’Brien
2006 Ryder Cup Race Day
(Photo : The Curragh Racecourse)
Vincent O’Brien died Monday morning at his home in Straffan, Co Kildare, at the age of 92.
Widely acknowledged as Europe’s greatest ever trainer, the former master of Ballydoyle was the Champion trainer in Ireland 13 times, and also a dual Champion trainer in Britain on both the flat (1966 and 1967) and over jumps (1952-3 and 1953/4).
Born on 9th April 1917 in Churchtown, Co Cork, Vincent O’Brien started training in 1944. He soon switched his attention to the jumping game. He also trained the winners of three Grand Nationals in a row, (1953-5). Famous for his successful gambles, he had amassed sufficient earnings and winnings by 1951 to purchase the Georgian house set in 320 acres of parkland named Ballydoyle. Within a few years, he turned to the flat, winning his first Irish Derby with Chamier in 1953 and his second four years later with Ballymoss.
During the 1970’s Vincent O’Brien, along with owner Robert Sangster and his son in law John Magnier, established the Coolmore syndicate, just at the time when racing was changing from a popular sport to a multi-million pound industry. The process of changing yearlings – most bought from North America and many of them by Northern Dancer – into valuable Classic-winning stallions proved vital to the business, and Vincent O’Brien’s eye for a horse was invaluable.
To have trained the winner of almost every big race over jumps was achievement enough, but to have at least matched that on the flat is what made him unique. His astonishing record on the flat included 16 English Classic victories, 27 Irish Classics, three Prix de l’Arc deTriomphes and 25 wins at Royal Ascot.