Vincent O’Brien: Grand National Legend

Vincent O’Brien, also known as the “Master of Ballydoyle”, is a genuine Grand National legend and the most successful trainer ever to emerge from Ireland.

O’Brien’s father was a successful national hunt horse trainer in Ireland who won a number of prestigious races, including the Champions hurdle at Cheltenham during his career. Brought up amongst champion horses, young Vincent was always destined to follow in his father footsteps.

Vincent O’Brien received his own training license during the 1944/1945 season and had an immediate impact on hunt racing. Within his first five years as a professional trainer O’Brien chalked up a series of remarkable victories, including winning three Cheltenham Gold Cups and the King George VI Chase.

Within the first decade of his career as a trainer, Vincent O’Brien achieved a feat that may never be equalled. In 1953 racehorse Early Mist was entered into the Grand National at 20/1 odds, and won the trainer his first race. O’Brien was back at Aintree the following year with a new horse, Royal Tan, who duly obliged his trainer with a second Grand National victory.

1955 saw Vincent O’Brien, Grand National legend, achieve the unthinkable. Quare Times was entered into the Grand National as a 100/9 outsider and ran a sensational race to hand O’Brien his third consecutive Grand National victory. What makes this Grand National legend’s hat-trick even more impressive is that it came on the back of an Irish Grand National title in 1952 with Irish racehorse Alberoni.

Following his spectacular success in National Hunt racing, Vincent O’Brien turned his attention to flat racing and continued to achieve on level turf, winning the Epsom Derby, the King George VI and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot. O’Brien also took his horses to America and won several prestigious titles in the United States.

In the 1970s Vincent O’Brien set up the Coolmore Syndicate with his son-on-law, and owner Robert Sangster. Within a few years the Coolmore breeding program had become the most successful in the world, and the quality of horses bred, along with O’Brien’s legendary training skills, produced a series of champion racehorses.

Vincent O’Brien, Grand National legend, retired in 1994 with two Champion Trainer titles. Fittingly he did so following a win by his horse Mysterious Ways at Curragh. He has since passed his duties at the Coolmore Stud farms to his son Aidan, who has ably continued his father’s unsurpassed tradition of rearing champion racehorses.