Cheltenham - At The Races

Joseph O'Brien Stable Tour

    The rising star of the training ranks runs the rule over his talented young team, featuring star four-year-olds Sir Erec and Fakir D'oudairies, as he seeks a first Festival winner in his own name.
  • Tuesday 26 February 2019
  • Stable Tours

Joseph O’Brien has achieved more in racing at the age of 25 that most could dream of achieving in a lifetime, yet the remarkable thing is that he is really only just getting started.

As a jockey he rode 31 Group/Grade 1 winners including two renewals of the Derby at Epsom before the inevitable day came where his substantial frame made it impractical for him to make the weight required to ride on the Flat.

While he was still just 22 years old when that day came, he had already been playing a major role as a trainer under his father Aidan O’Brien’s name on Owning Hill, with him being given all the credit for the success of Ivanovich Gorbatov in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.

Having been granted his own licence to train in June 2016, O’Brien made the perfect start by saddling four winners on his first day with runners and hasn’t looked back. He has since saddled four separate Group 1 winners both on the Flat and over jumps. In his first full season as a National Hunt trainer in 2017/18, he finished third in the trainers’ championship to Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.

Joseph sat down with Kevin Blake of attheraces.com to discuss his team for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival as he bids to secure his first success at the big meeting in his own name.

Older Horses

Band Of Outlaws (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Fast Company - Band of Colour (Spectrum)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 13 Mar 2019 16:50
  • Result: Won/21, held up rear of mid-division, headway going well from 5th, hampered and switched right before last, led flat, quickened up well, decisively
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 135-rated hurdler, he has won two of his three starts in juvenile hurdles.

Trainer Says:

We have a couple of options for him at Cheltenham, but hopefully he gets a fair weight for the Fred Winter as I don’t think he’d be up to competing in a Grade 1. If the handicapper was hard on him, we would also have the option of waiting for Aintree with him. He looks a speed horse based on what we’ve seen so far, which isn’t a surprise given that a stiff mile was probably his best trip on the Flat. He has only raced in steadily-run races over hurdles so far and that emphasis on speed has suited him. It will be a different story if he goes to Cheltenham and he’ll have to prove him stamina in those circumstances.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:
9 Dec 2018:
7 Oct 2018:
15 Sep 2018:
12 Sep 2018:

Early Doors (FR)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Soldier of Fortune - Ymlaen (Desert Prince)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2019 17:30
  • Result: Won/24, held up mid-division, steady headway after 3 out, chased leaders turning in, ridden to challenge before last, led flat, kept on well
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 143-rated hurdler, he won a Grade 3 novice hurdle and was placed in a Grade 1 novice hurdle last season. He most recently finished a well-beaten second to Apple’s Jade in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

He’s entered in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle as well as the Coral Cup and the plan is to run in one of them. He ran well to finish third in the Martin Pipe last year and is in good shape, so hopefully he will acquit himself well there, though others will probably look more progressive than him.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
2 Dec 2018:
28 Apr 2018:
4 Feb 2018:
3 Dec 2017:

Embittered

Form Profile:

Made a winning debut in a bumper at Punchestown in December and ran well when third to Envoi Allen in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

I don’t think he’ll run in the Champion Bumper.

Video Form
9 Dec 2018:

Fakir D'oudairies (FR)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Kapgarde - Niagaria du bois (Grand Tresor)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 12 Mar 2019 13:30
  • Result: 4/16, tracked leaders on inside, driven and outpaced 2 out, soon ridden and no impression, stayed on under pressure flat, snatched well held 4th final strides
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 146-rated hurdler, he has won both his starts this season including a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham in January.

Trainer Says:

He has the option of going for either the Triumph Hurdle or the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the decision won’t be made until as late as possible. He has always looked a nice horse, but he did surprise us with quite how well he won at Cheltenham. It would be a big ask for him to go for the Supreme, but at the same time I wouldn’t be too worried about him in terms of experience or maturity, as he is a good forward type that already had plenty of miles on the clock in France when he arrived here. Whichever race he ends up going for, rain would be a help to his chance.

Fine Brunello (FR)

Form Profile:

Formerly trained in France, he has run well without winning in both his starts for O’Brien, most recently finishing second to Fakir D’oudairies in a Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham.

Trainer Says:

We’ll see what weight he gets in the Fred Winter tomorrow, but the plan is to run him in that all being well. He ran well at Cheltenham last time, so we’ll give him a go and will see how he runs. He’s a big horse that should make a lovely chaser in time.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:

Gardens Of Babylon (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Camelot - Condition (Deploy)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 15 Mar 2019 13:30
  • Result: 3/14, chased leaders, dropped to mid-division 4th, outpaced after 2 out, not clear run turning in, rallied under pressure before last, soon ridden, went 3rd and kept on flat, no impression with front pair
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 140-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in December and has twice since finished second in second in stronger company, most notably to Sir Erec in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

He entered in both the Triumph Hurdle as well as the Fred Winter and a decision hasn’t been made on which race he’ll go for yet. He’s likely to be given plenty of weight in the Fred Winter. He ran very well when second to Sir Erec at Leopardstown last time despite his jumping being a bit sketchy in places on the day. Based on that last run, he’d be well entitled to run in the Triumph, so we’ll wait and see until closer to the time.

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:
16 Apr 2018:
22 Oct 2017:

Ivanovich Gorbatov

Form Profile:

A 137-rated hurdler, he won the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016 and has been running well without winning in handicap company of late.

Trainer Says:

We have him entered up in a few of the handicaps and the County Hurdle is probably his most likely target, but no decision has been made yet. He has won at the meeting before and has run well back there since, so hopefully he can be competitive. He has obviously been disappointing since his Triumph Hurdle win, but he ran better at the Dublin Racing Festival last time and hopefully can follow up that with another big run. The quicker the ground, the better he’ll be.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
2 Dec 2018:
3 Nov 2018:
13 Sep 2018:
24 Aug 2018:

Konitho (FR)

  • 4-y-o; gelding
  • Breeding: Konig Turf - Haute Chartreuse (Turgeon)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Naas, 9 Feb 2019 14:40
  • Result: 5/6, tracked leaders, slight mistake 2nd, 4th halfway, pushed along and no impression approaching last, no extra run-in
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Formerly trained in France, he made a winning start for O’Brien in a maiden hurdle at Naas prior to running below form in a novice hurdle back at that track in February.

Trainer Says:

He’s entered in the Fred Winter, but at this stage it doesn’t look like he will be running.

Meticulous (IRE)

Form Profile:

Made a winning debut at Killarney in July and showed improved form when second to Envoi Allen in a Grade 2 bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

There’s a fair chance he’ll run in the Champion Bumper. I thought he ran very well behind Envoi Allen at the Dublin Racing Festival. He should have learned from the experience he got there and Barry O’Neill was very happy with him on the day. We’re looking forward to him and getting decent ground again would be a help to him.

Video Form
29 Dec 2018:
19 Jul 2018:

Midnight Run

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Well Chosen - Knockamullen Girl (Alderbrook)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Naas, 24 Feb 2019 17:05
  • Result: Won/4, waited with, in touch in rear, closed on outer straight, led from 2f out, edged left over 1f out, soon asserted, pushed out and stayed on well
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A full-brother to the smart bumper performer Carefully Selected, he made a winning debut in a bumper at Galway in October and has since run well in stronger company.

Trainer Says:

I don’t think he’ll go to Cheltenham. We are likely to aim him at the Punchestown Festival instead.

Video Form
16 Dec 2018:
9 Oct 2018:

Mortal

Form Profile:

A 147-rated chaser, he won a maiden chase at Fairyhouse prior to finishing second to Delta Work in a Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

We were disappointed with his last run and we didn’t really find anything to excuse him it. He is entered in the JLT, the RSA and National Hunt Chase. We are happy with him at home, but there is unlikely to be a decision made on his target until late on as Gigginstown have plenty of ammo in the novice chase division.

Video Form
29 Dec 2018:
1 Dec 2018:
17 Apr 2018:
20 Jan 2018:
29 Dec 2017:

Rhinestone (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 141-rated hurdler, he won a maiden hurdle at Naas in November and most recently finished a close second to Commander Of Fleet in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

He has a few entries, but at the moment he looks most likely to run in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. He ran great at the Dublin Racing Festival last time and he’ll probably be taking on Commander Of Fleet again in the Albert Bartlett. I think the longer trip will suit him and hopefully he can take another step forward.

Video Form
16 Dec 2018:
10 Nov 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
17 Dec 2017:
18 Nov 2017:

Sempo (IRE)

  • 5-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Oscar - Miss Cozzene (Solid Illusion)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 13 Mar 2019 17:30
  • Result: 6/14, held up towards rear, headway on inside over 3f out, chased leaders turning in, ridden over 1f out, one pace and no impression final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Made it third-time lucky when winning a bumper at Thurles by 15 lengths in February.

Trainer Says:

We always liked him at home, but Cheltenham wasn’t really in our minds for him until he won in very good style at Thurles the last day. He’ll be entered in the Champion Bumper, but I dont expect his owner to make a decision on whether to run him or not until closer to the time.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:
11 Sep 2018:

Shady Operator

Form Profile:

A 137-rated chaser, he won a maiden chase at Punchestown in December prior to running creditably in a Grade 3 novice chase at Naas in January.

Trainer Says:

He is entered in the novices’ handicap chase, but he probably won’t be guaranteed to get into it. We’ll wait and see how he comes out in the weights. We were a bit disappointed with his last run at Naas, but he doesn’t have many miles on the clock and can hopefully bounce back.

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:
8 Dec 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
25 Nov 2017:
5 Nov 2017:

Sir Erec (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 149-rated hurdler, he has won both his starts over hurdles including the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Trainer Says:

All is well with him and he will run in the Triumph Hurdle. He took a big step in the right direction when winning the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. He jumped very well, better than he did on his first start over hurdles. He made the running last time, but you’d be more than happy to see him get a good lead off something else. What should be a stronger test of stamina in the Triumph will suit him and he wouldn’t mind any ease in the ground either. He’s still a full horse, but he’s very straightforward and has a great attitude, so being a colt is no hindrance to him. He’s one you’d have to be excited about.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
13 Oct 2018:
31 Aug 2018:
16 Apr 2018:
5 Nov 2017:

Slowmotion (FR)

Form Profile:

A 136-rated hurdler, she returned to hurdling when finishing third to Laurina in a Listed mares’ hurdle at Punchestown in February.

Trainer Says:

There’s a good chance she’ll run in the Mares’ Hurdle. I thought she ran well behind Laurina at Punchestown last week. She travelled with a bit more enthusiasm that day than she had been in recent starts over fences. That run entitles her to take her chance and hopefully she can sneak into the frame.

Video Form
12 Sep 2018:
1 Aug 2018:
5 Jul 2018:
27 Apr 2018:
16 Nov 2017:

Star Max (GER)

Form Profile:

A 126-rated hurdler, he made it third-time lucky over hurdles when winning at Gowran Park in February.

Trainer Says:

We’d like to run him in the Fred Winter, but he wouldn’t be sure to get in. He has improved with each start over hurdles and showed a good attitude to win at Gowran Park last time. A big-field handicap should suit him and he’d have a sneaky chance if he got in.

Video Form
31 Dec 2018:

Thermistocles (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 131-rated hurdler, he got off the mark in a handicap hurdle at Clonmel in November and went on to finish third in a Pertemps Qualifier Handicap Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

He’ll go for the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle if he gets into it. We’ve been aiming him at it since he qualified for it and he seems to be in good shape. He isn’t overly exposed and ran well last time, so we’ll see how he goes.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
15 Nov 2018:
1 Oct 2018:
21 Feb 2018:
1 Jan 2018:

Tower Bridge (IRE)

Form Profile:

A 143-rated hurdler, he won a Grade 1 novice hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last season. He has run well without winning in three starts over fences this season.

Trainer Says:

Depending on what the handicapper does, he could potentially run in the novices’ handicap chase. His last run was his first decent effort over fences and hopefully he can build on that, as his first couple of runs over fences were disappointing.

Video Form
28 Dec 2018:
17 Nov 2018:
3 Feb 2018:
28 Dec 2017:
4 Nov 2017:

Us And Them (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Stowaway - Manorville (Flemensfirth)
  • Trained by: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 12 Mar 2019 14:10
  • Result: 2/12, held up in rear, pecked 1st, not fluent 4 out, ridden in modest 7th before 3 out, headway 2 out, went 2nd final 150 yards, no chance with winner
  • View full form
Form Profile:

A 152-rated chaser, he has won one of his five starts over fences and finished second in two Grade 1 novice chases.

Trainer Says:

He has a couple of entries, but he looks very likely to go for the Arkle Challenge Trophy. He has been doing nothing wrong over fences and would have two Grade 1s in the bag if it wasn’t for Le Richebourg! He’s a very good novice and is more than entitled to take his chance and run well.

Video Form
26 Dec 2018:
8 Dec 2018:
11 Nov 2018:
29 Oct 2018:
28 Dec 2017:

Vieux Morvan (FR)

Form Profile:

A 140-rated chaser, he finished second in the valuable Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting.

Trainer Says:

He has a couple of entries at Cheltenham, but I’d say he’s more likely to wait for either the Grand National or the Irish Grand National.

Video Form
27 Dec 2018:
12 Sep 2018:
3 Aug 2018:
18 Jul 2018:
4 Feb 2018: