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Vincent O'Brien

Vincent O'Brien: dominated both National Hunt and Flat racing

  PICTURE: Gerry Cranham  

Racing legend Vincent O'Brien dies aged 92

VINCENT O'BRIEN, arguably the greatest racehorse trainer of all time, died on Monday morning at his home in Straffan, County Kildare. He was 92.

A statement issued on behalf of his family read: "He andhis wife Jacqueline have been spending their winters in Perth, Australia where their son David is now living with his family.  Due to failing health he returned to his home in Ireland last week.  At the end he was surrounded by his wife, his five children, grand-children and sons- and daughters-in-law.  He will be greatly missed by his family and friends."

Nijinsky - Derby - 1970

Nijinsky: 1970 Triple Crown winner

  PICTURE: Daily Mirror  

His funeral will take place at noon on Thursday at St Conleth's Church, Newbridge, County Kildare.

The trainer of 16 British Classic winners, including the Derby six times, and 27 Irish Classic winners, he won most of the major Flat races in Europe and also achieved big race success in the US with Sir Ivor in the 1968 Washington International and Royal Academy in the 1990 Breeders' Cup Mile.

However it was as a trainer of jumpers that O'Brien first made his name.

He became the only trainer to send out three consecutive winners of the Grand National at Aintree between 1953 and 1955 - Early Mist, Royal Tan and Quare Times(1955) .

He also won four Cheltenham Gold Cups, achieving a hat-trick with Cottage Rake(1948-1950) and also landing the prize with Knock Hard in 1953. He also trained Hatton's Grace to win three consecutive runnings of the ChampionHurdle (1949-1951).

His record saw him voted racing's greatest achiever of all time in the Racing Post's poll, carried out in January and February 2003, to list the top 100 racing greats.

O'Brien started training at his family's farm in Churchtown, County Cork in 1943 having previously assisted his father, Dan.

In 1951 he bought a 285-acre farm near the village of Rosegreen in County Tipperary for £17,000and turned it into a training centre par excellence which became known to the racing world as Ballydoyle, an establishment which continues to flourish under Aidan O'Brien who was appointed trainer for the Coolmore partnership following Vincent O'Brien's retirement in 1994.

Vincent O Brien - The Minstrel

Vincent O'Brien and The Minstrel

Having scaled the heights as a trainer of jumpers, O'Brien went on to surpass those achievements on the Flat and his record as a top trainer in both spheres remains unequalled.

Lester Piggott, who shared in so many of O'Brien's greatest triumphs, finished second in the poll.

In the early 1970s, along with Robert Sangster and John Magnier, he formed a syndicate which was to propel Coolmore Stud to the forefront of the international breeding industry by buying yearlings in the US, training them at Ballydoyle to achieve Group 1 success and then standing them as stallions.

His Derby winners were Larkspur (1962), Sir Ivor, who also won the 2,000 Guineas, in 1968, Nijinsky, the most recent winner of the triple crown in 1970, Roberto (1972), The Minstrel (1977) and Golden Fleece (1982).

His other British Classic wins were achieved in the 2,000 Guineas with Lomond (1983) and El Gran Senor (1984), the Oaks with Long Look (1966) and Valoris(1967), the 1,000 Guineas with Glad Rags (1966) and the St Leger with Ballymoss (1957) and Boucher (1972).

Vincent O'Brien - front page 100 greatest

Vincent O'Brien: Post front page

Ballymoss won the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe in 1958 and was the first of O'Brien's three victories in the race which Alleged won in 1977 and 1978.

His total of 25 Royal Ascot winners included six, from seven runners, in 1975.

He was champion trainer in Ireland 13 times and was champion Flat trainer in Britain in 1966 and 1967 and champion jumps trainer in Britain in 1952-53 and 1953-54.

His first winner as a trainer was Oversway at Limerick Junction (now known as Tipperary racecourse) on May 20 1943 while his last winner was Mysterious Ways at the Curragh on September 17 1994. His retirement was announced a month later.

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