He rose to prominence as a jockey for his father, Aiden O’Brien, and achieved multiple Classic and Group wins throughout his almost seven-year riding career. It became clear in late 2015 that weight issues would force retirement and he was officially granted his training license in June 2016.
Success came swiftly: O’Brien saddled his first G1 winner when Intricately won the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh. Taking to the international stage, Joseph O’Brien produced Rekindling to win the 2017 renewal of the Melbourne Cup – becoming the youngest ever trainer to win the race.
In Latrobe, Joseph O’Brien found another stable star to help him achieve new milestones for 2018. A three-year-old colt by Camelot, LATROBE was bought by O’Brien at Tattersalls for a small sum of 64,000 guineas. It took him four starts to break his maiden, but LATROBE booked his place in the Irish Derby after winning at the Curragh at the start of June. He was a 14/1 shot on the day and many believed he would be out of his depth in a competitive race. LATROBE surprised everyone under a clever ride from Donnacha O’Brien (Joseph’s brother) to beat Rostropovich by half a length, giving O’Brien his first Classic winner.
There were few options for the Irish Derby winner, and Latrobe headed to York for the Juddmonte International Stakes, where he struggled to stay with the pace and finished down the field behind Roaring Lion. A second in the Irish St Leger proved that staying distances would be more to his liking and a plan was formed to take him to the Melbourne Cup. Once in Australia, Joseph O’Brien made the brave decision to swerve the big race on account of LATROBE’s inexperience and instead picked up a good second place in the McKinnon Stakes at Flemington. Hong Kong was the obvious next target.
Despite travelling internationally for his father, Joseph O’Brien has never visited Hong Kong and said “Everyone I know that has been to Hong Kong has always spoken very highly of their experiences there and it has been in my mind for a number of years now to have a runner. I’m delighted to have a horse that is good enough and hopefully LATROBE will acquit himself well in the Vase. He has come out of his last run in particularly good form, so we go there hoping he can run well”. The conditions of the Hong Kong Vase should suit the Irish Derby hero and LATROBE will be hoping to top off a successful campaign for his young trainer.