‘He was meticulous in his preparation - he knew the horses inside out’
Trainer Aidan O'Brien reveals the secret weapon that helped him win the Investec Derby six times, and how his son Joseph gets the most out of his rides.
Read the transcript
Aidan O’Brien: Joseph was always very natural, he was very relaxed. He was meticulous in his preparation. He'd draw diagrams, he’d know where horses, where he thought they were going to be, where jockeys used to ride, and he'd go through it 20 times in his head so he left so many different scenarios. If it played out he was always able to change naturally and was never afraid to change.
Joseph O’Brien: You would definitely put more thought into the Derby because using a length and a half or two lengths too much gas the first half a mile in the race can be the difference between winning and losing.
I was very lucky to have walked the track on plenty of occasions before I actually got to ride it. The gradient of the track, the first couple of furlongs and how much it swings back and runs downhill into the straight you really have to see it to appreciate the magnitude of it.
Aidan O’Brien: It’s tough and they have to be ready for a tough battle and race on after because it is the ultimate test of a thoroughbred really.
We have Tattenham Corner in Ballydoyle and when the horses start working on the grass it’s the only way home so from the time they start working as two year olds, to go down on to the main gallop they have to canter around Tattenham Corner, so they’d have cantered around hundreds of times before.
Joseph O’Brien: A different horse or a different jockey may ride Epsom differently to what they might ride somewhere else so it's very important to do your homework, everywhere I suppose, but especially in Epsom.
You do feel the pressure a little bit on the days like that but it's about getting to the start in as relaxed a manor as possible.
Aidan O’Brien: [Joseph] put him asleep at the first half of the race, he was well out of it, but we knew what Joseph was at and he came with this sail down the outside and his rhythm carried him straight through.
Joseph O’Brien: He would never have seen an occasion he did in Epsom so you still can't take any chances and no matter how relaxed the horse is in their daily work, when gets to the big day and the big occasion and the fanfare and everything you still have to be careful that that they don't even just get a little bit panicked or get upset or get a fright.
Aidan O’Brien: When Joseph was riding he rode all the horses, nobody else. He knew all the work, he rode them all.
But like Joseph said, he was meticulous in his preparation for all those races all the time and he knew the horses inside out.
The reality of it, what happened in the past is not much good to us because it's all past tense, we try and take learnings from the past, any things we did we shouldn't do, and any of the things that we thought worked we'd try to remember them.
The past is experience and experience is always an advantage but that's all it is. You have to keep striving to the future, looking forward.
More on the Investec Derby Festival
Lessons from Derby leaders
To win the Derby you must learn from your experiences and others around you, drawing on their expertise and knowledge to create something Out of the Ordinary. The greatest chance of success is when you adapt your approach to fit the situation you face.
Crucial Derby moments
Reputation takes years to build, but can be destroyed in an instant. The importance of grasping those moments of opportunity, when the good become the great and the also-rans become the success stories told for years to come, cannot be underestimated.
Stories of success
No one remembers who finishes second. The Investec Derby is all about winning. But it's not just about being bigger or stronger, it's how you use intelligence to find those tiny points of difference that help you rise above the competition.