In racing when we talk of being bred in the purple or having “blue blood coursing through his veins”, we are generally talking about the equine. The Thoroughbred to be precise. An incredible species whose ancestry can be traced back to three founding stallions — The Byerly Turk, The Godolphin Barb and The Darley Arabian.
On Sunday the 13th, however, as the four-year-olds line up at the RCTC for the Eveready Calcutta Derby — held in association with The Telegraph — the bloodline everyone will be referring could well be that of jockey Joseph O’Brien, who is all set to trot in.
He’s still in his teens — he turns 20 in May — and what an impact he’s already made. The boy wonder rode Camelot to three Group I victories last year in the UK, and that included The Epsom Derby!
But then that’s what the world of racing expected — after all, he is the son of the great Aidan O’Brien, one of the most brilliantly successful trainers ever in Ireland. The man who trained Rock of Gibraltar, Galileo, Hawk Wing, George Washington and High Chaparral, just to mention a few of the world-class horses he raced.
With that sort of a bloodline, could Joseph live up to expectations where so many had failed? The answer to that million-dollar question was given in typical O’Brien fashion — on the track.
In 2010, he shared the Champion Apprentice Jockey title in Ireland and then in 2011 he graduated into the Grand Slam arena of Group Races. A victory on Roderic O’Connor in the Irish 2000 Guineas followed up with the Moyglare Stud Stakes (Group I) on Maybe was just the icing on the cake before he crossed the Atlantic to win the Breeders Cup Turf in the US on St. Nicholas Abbey.
In 2012, Joseph really came into his own.
The hottest sensation from Ireland is all set to ride Hamlet in the Eveready Calcutta Derby on Sunday. Joseph is an established star but Hamlet has a lot to live up to if the Prince Of Denmark wants to become the King Of the Calcutta Turf. He’s a winner of just one race from two starts.
That’s the sort of stuff that only comes true in the movies you might say, but then in racing anything can happen. And if nothing else Calcuttans will — hopefully — get a chance to see Joseph O’Brien ride on a track that has seen the all-time-great Lester Piggott.