Irish Racing Greats
LEADING JUMP TRAINERS DOWN THE YEARS _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

AIDAN O'BRIEN
Born Wexford, 1969

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AFTER launching his National Hunt career in the summer of 1993, Aidan Patrick O'Brien set a prize-money record in his first jumps season; became the first trainer in Ireland to win 100 races in his first year; the following year he set an Irish record of 178 winners (Flat and jumps combined) in a calendar year and amazingly broke it in 1995 with a staggering total of 242 winners.
 Holds five jump trainers' titles and saddled Istabraq to win three Champion Hurdles. The gelding was also successful in the SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle (1997). Urubande was his first Cheltenham Festival scorer (1996 Sun Alliance). Also landed a Whitbread Gold Cup with Life Of A Lord (1996), the winner of back-to-back Galway Plates (1995 and 1996).
 His move to Ballydoyle (where his famous predecessor, Vincent O'Brien, ruled the roost for many years) in 1997 to concentrate exclusively on the Flat signalled the arrival of an exceptional talent that has already landed 45 European Classics as well as 4 Breeders' Cup victories in America (See leading trainers down the years in the Flat section).

 

 




 

 

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MICHAEL O'BRIEN
Born 1943

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MICHAEL O'Brien's (pictured with his grand daughter Annalise) successful riding career was brought to a cruel end in America when he suffered a serious spinal injury after a fall from Athenian Idol in the Carolina Cup in March 1974.
 However, being confined to a wheelchair did not prevent him establishing a successful career as a jumps trainer and his big-race record makes impressive reading. Three Irish Grand Nationals have come his way with King Spruce (1982), Vanton (1992) and Glebe Lad (1999).
 He also sent out Shawiya (1993 Triumph Hurdle) and Kadoun (2006 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle) to win at the Cheltenham Festival and enjoyed notable successes before that when Bright Highway won both the Mackeson and Hennessy Gold Cups in 1980.
 Other horses to have represented him with distinction are Knife Edge, Chorelli, Tacroy, Forget The Past (finished 3rd in the 2006 Gold Cup), Shaihar, In Compliance and Essex, who followed up his 2005 win in the Pierse Hurdle with victory in Newbury's Totesport Trophy Hurdle. Dovaly opened his Galway Plate account in 2000.
 He retired in 2009 due to ill health, handing over the licence to his assistant Denis Cullen. His last runner was Daring Man (finished 3rd) at Leopardstown on November 5th.
 His brother, New York-based trainer Leo, sent Fourstars Allstar to the Curragh to land the Irish 2,000 Guineas in 1991.

 
 


 
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VINCENT O'BRIEN
Born Co Cork, 1917

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MICHAEL Vincent O'Brien's achievements over jumps are unique and he is still the only trainer to win three consecutive Grand Nationals (Early Mist 1953, Royal Tan 1954 and Quare Times 1955). He also trained the winners of three Champion Hurdles (Hatton's Grace 1949, 1950, 1951) and four Cheltenham Gold Cups (Cottage Rake 1948, 1949, 1950 and Knock Hard 1953).
 His exploits at the Cheltenham Festival were nothing short of phenomenal where he saddled 23 winners and landed many famous gambles.
 After dispersing his jumpers in 1959, he went on to become Flat racing's greatest trainer, landing no fewer than 44 European Classics (See leading trainers down the years in the Flat section). 

 

 

 


 


O'BRIEN'S 23 FESTIVAL WINNERS
 1948 Cottage Rake (Gold Cup)
 1949 Cotage Rake (Gold Cup); Hatton's Grace (Champion Hurdle); Castledermot (National Hunt Chase)
 1950 Cottage Rake (Gold Cup); Hatton's Grace (Champion Hurdle)
 1951 Hatton's Grace (Champion Hurdle)
 1952 Cockatoo (Gloucestershire Hurdle); Royal Tan (Ritz Club Chase)
 1953 Knock Hard (Gold Cup)
 1954 Stroller (Gloucestershire Hurdle); Quare Times (National Hunt Chase); Lucky Dome (Spa Hurdle)
 1955 Vindore (Div 1 Gloucestershire Hurdle); Illyric (Div 2 Gloucestershire Hurdle); Ahaburn (Birdlip Hurdle)
 1956 Boy's Hurrah (Div 1 Gloucestershire Hurdle); Pelargos (Div 2 Gloucestershire Hurdle); Stroller (Spa Hurdle)
 1957 Saffron Tartan (Gloucestershire Hurdle)
 1958 Admiral Stuart (Div 1 Gloucestershire Hurdle); Prudent King (Div 2 Gloucestershire Hurdle)
 1959 York Fair (Gloucestershire Hurdle)

 


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EDWARD O'GRADY
Born, 1949

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OF IRISH-BASED trainers, his 18 winners at the Cheltenham Festival is surpassed only by two giants of Irish racing, Tom Dreaper and Vincent O'Brien. The role of honour includes the Supreme Novices' Hurdle victory of the hugely promising Golden Cygnet (1978), who was tragically killed later that year after a fall in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr.
 Guaranteed a special place in Irish racing folklore if only for his link with the Gay Future betting coup in 1974 when the horse, trained by him but running in the name of Scottish permit holder Tony Collins, won a small hurdle race at Cartmel at 10/1.
 Won an Irish Grand National (Bit Of A Skite) and a Whitbread Gold Cup Chase (Drumlargan) in 1983. Also landed two Tingle Creek Chases with Sound Man (1995 and 1996) as well as a Victor Chandler Chase victory with Blitzkreig (1991) and an Aintree Hurdle with Sacundai (2003).

 His Tranquil Sea ended a 29-year wait for an Irish-trained winner (Bright Highway 1980) of the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2009.
 His father, Willie, trained three winners at Cheltenham in the 1960s, including Solfen, who won twice at the 1960 Festival.

 

 

 

 
O'GRADY'S 18 FESTIVAL WINNERS
 1974 Mr Midland (National Hunt Chase)
 1976 Prolan (Walwyn Muir Chase)
 1977 Prolan (Cathcart Chase)
 1978 Golden Cygnet (Supreme Novices' Hurdle)

 1978 Flame Gun (Bounsprint Stayers' Hurdle)
 1980 Drumlargan (SunAlliance Hurdle)

 1980 Mountrivers (Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle)
 1981 Staplestown (County Hurdle)
 1982 Mr Donovan (SunAlliance Hurdle)
 1983 Bit Of A Skite (National Hunt Chase)
 1984 Northern Game (Triumph Hurdle)
 1994 Time For A Run (Coral Cup Hurdle)

 1994 Mucklemeg (Bumper)
 1996 Ventana Canyon (Arkle Chase)

 1996 Loving Around (National Hunt Chase)
 2002 Pizarro (Bumper)
 2003 Back In Front (Supreme Novices' Hurdle)

 2006 Sky's The Limit (Coral Cup Hurdle)

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MICK O'TOOLE
Born: 1931

Mick O Toole

ONE OF the great characters of Irish racing, Mick O'Toole won the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Coral-Eclipse and Arkle Trophy in the same year, 1979 - not bad for someone who started off his career as a greyhound trainer. 
 Saddled eight winners at the Cheltenham Festival, most notably the 1977 Gold Cup winner Davy Lad. That total would have been nine but for the disqualification of Chinrullah (winner of the previous year's Arkle) from the 1980 Champion Chase on a technicality.
 His six other festival winners were Davy Lad (1975 Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle); Parkhill (1976 Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle); Bit Of A Jig (1976 Stayers' Hurdle); Mac's Chariot (1977 Supreme Novices' Hurdle); Gay Tie (1978 National Hunt Amateur Chase) and Hartstown (1981 Supreme Novices' Hurdle).
 Won the 1975 Norfolk Stakes with Faliraki but his best Flat horse was Dickens Hill, who finished second to Troy in both the 1979 English and Irish Derbys before landing the Coral-Eclipse Stakes under Tony Murray.

 

 
 
  
 


 
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CHRISTY ROCHE
Born: 1949

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ONE OF Ireland's all-time great Flat jockeys (seven-times champion jockey who rode 12 Irish Classic winners), Christy Roche (see Leading Jockeys in Flat section) has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the jumping game since hanging up his riding boots in 1998. Has already trained three Cheltenham Festival winners in Khayrawani (1999), Like-A-Butterfly (2002), who landed the Irish Champion Hurdle (2003), and Youlneverwalkalone (2003).  
 Loves to target the main Irish Festivals, and Grimes's well-executed victory in the 2001 Galway Plate, as well as Far From Trouble's in the same race in 2006, were major career highpoints. His association with JP McManus-owned horses usually leave the bookies running for cover. 

 

 

 
 

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PADDY SLEATOR
Born, 1909-1996

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CHAMPION Irish trainer who won the Champion Hurdle with Another Flash in 1960. His genius in exploiting the framework of racing's rules caused a restructuring of Irish racing which ultimately led to him moving all of his best jumpers to England in 1961 to the Warwick stables of Arthur Thomas. 
 With Sleator supplying the stable and work staff, as well as the campaign planning, the winners came off the assembly line almost conveyor-belt style. So much so that Thomas had his licence revoked four years later.
 A mastermind of many coups, he enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Galway races. As an amateur jockey he won the 1934 Galway Plate on Reviewer. Trained 9 Plate winners - Silent Prayer (1948); Amber Point (1954 and 1956); Knight Errant (1957); Sparkling Flame (1960); Clipador (1961); Royal Day (1967 and 1969) and O'Leary (1976). Brought off the coveted Galway double (Plate and Hurdle) with Knight Errant and Tymon Castle in 1957.  
 His four other Cheltenham Festival winners were Sparkling Flame (1961 Spa Hurdle); Scottish Memories (1965 Cathcart Cup); Havago (1965 Gloucestershire Hurdle) and Ballywilliam Boy (1970 Gloucestershire Hurdle). He had no equal in the art of placing a horse to the best advantage.

 

 
 

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TOM TAAFFE
Born, 1963

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The name Taaffe has become a household word in the history of jump racing in Ireland, Britain and indeed further afield. Tom Taaffe (T J) followed his legendary father, Pat (winner of a record 4 Cheltenham Gold Cups, see leading jump jockeys section), into the saddle and rode 400 winners.
 His association with trainer Arthur Moore brought many important wins on horses such as Royal Bond, Fredcoteri, Roark, Soft Day and Bonalma, although it was the Kevin Hitchmough-trained Brittany Boy who gave him his biggest success in the saddle when landing the Irish Grand National in 1987.
 Although he never rode a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Kicking King shot him to glory there as a trainer in the 2005 running of the Gold Cup. Also saddled the same horse to win back-to-back wins in the King George V1 Chase (2004 and 2005). Amazingly his father achieved the same treble as a trainer with Captain Christy.
 He has now established himself as one of the leading trainers in the country since launching his career in 1994 and enjoyed his second Cheltenham Festival winner when Finger Onthe Pulse landed the Jewson Novices' Handicap Chase in 2008.
 His grandfather, also named Tom, won the Grand National in 1958 with Mr What, while his uncle, Tos, was a leading professional jockey and another uncle, Bill, was an accomplished amateur.
 

  

 Irish Racing Greats 2006

 

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