24 hours with... Joseph O'Brien

Joseph O'Brien has already captured the Irish Derby and the Melbourne Cup, but you're unlikely to see him at the races

Jospeh O'Brien with the Melbourne Cup

Joseph O’Brien and Corey Brown celebrate after winning the Melbourne Cup in 2017 – Photo: Bronwen Healy

I’m normally up around 5.45am and I live just a minute away from the yard, so I’m in between 6.15-6.30am. First call is to meet Faisal Hayat, my head man, and Mark Power, my assistant, and we go through the feed list and check the board, which is usually done the night before.

All the lads are in for around 7am, and first lot meets in the ring for around 7.30am. I don’t ride out myself, apart from on Sundays, but I’m not missing it.

With around 150 horses now it’s impossible to ride out and to see everything, so I’m better placed on the ground.

There’s a long family history to the stables at Carriganog Racing – my grandfather Joe Crowley trained successfully here, then my mum, and then my dad after I was born. My aunt, Frances Crowley, also did very well here.

We’ve grown fast since I was first licensed in 2016. We started off with around 15-20 horses and just gathered up more as each year went on.

We’ve got a good mixture now, about 60% of them for the Flat and 40% jumps, and I like that balance as it keeps us busy and means that the business flows all the year round instead of having a big lull in the winter.

There’s a long family history to the stables at Carriganog Racing

With an operation this size I have to delegate. I can’t physically do everything myself and I’m very lucky to have great staff, which means I’m usually able to delegate to people who can do the job much better than I would. It works well.

The staff are one of our greatest assets and we are lucky in Ireland to have so many horsemen and women who have grown up with horses and enjoy working with them. That puts us in a privileged position compared to a lot of other countries.

A handful came with me from Ballydoyle but most of the lads have connected with me in the last couple of years. There are some great riders among them – I believe that’s absolutely essential.

We have runners most days in Ireland when there’s racing, and also at some of the big meetings abroad, but I don’t attend perhaps as much as I should, for the simple reason I like being at home and I like seeing the work in the yard has been done properly.

Training was always the end game

We’ve a good team of travelling people perfectly capable of ensuring everything goes smoothly on the racecourse, and it’s probably more important that I’m at home.

You might see me at Gowran or one of the other local tracks during the week, but apart from at sales time I usually like to be at home.

Rekindling wins the Melbourne Cup

Rekindling strikes in the Melbourne Cup for jockey Corey Brown and trainer Joseph O’Brien – Photo: Bronwen Healy

When you see me at Ascot or Newmarket or somewhere like that, I’m usually in and out the same day; even when Rekindling won the Melbourne Cup last year I was only there for three days. I’ll be travelling out to Australia again for Latrobe in this Saturday’s Mackinnon Stakes.

I really enjoyed riding, and I was very lucky, but training was always the end game and having gone straight from one to the other I’ve been too busy to miss it.

I’d like to think I’m quite easy to ride for, because I understand that things don’t always go how you expect them to, so I try not to overcomplicate matters. When they go right and we have a good win I’d say I enjoy it even more now.

There’s a lot more goes into training a winner than riding one, so I get a bigger kick training a big one than I did from riding one.

Everything revolves around the horses obviously, but I like to relax in the evening, even if it’s just taking the dogs for a walk.

If you prepare properly beforehand, the rest is out of your control

It’s nice to be able to eat properly again now after years of watching my weight all of the time, but I can’t say that I indulge myself particularly. I just enjoy a normal diet.

I follow a wide range of sports, from Gaelic football and hurling, through to soccer and golf, and if there’s something on the television it will usually be sport. I’ll enjoy almost any, but there’s not often time to attend.

There’s a lot of responsibility with an operation of this size and it is stressful at times, but we have good systems in place as well as great staff and we all pull together.

I’m still learning, but so far as possible we make sure we have dotted all the i’s and crossed the t’s ahead of a big race, and if you prepare properly beforehand, the rest is out of your control.

I’d be in bed most nights by 10pm and I sleep well. Luckily I’m not usually one to stay awake worrying about things.

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