My Carnival was a bit different this year; shorter because of my role with ITV in the UK, but I arrived back in Australia right before the Cox Plate. I was full of excitement to have a runner in the big race, but at the end of the day, it was all about Winx and her historical win in the Cox Plate.
Attention soon turned to Flemington for four days of first class racing. ‘RSVP Week’ was in full swing and the big names appeared on and off the track!
It was on Oaks Day that Bruce McAvaney posed the question to our panel on Seven, ‘What did we learn from this year’s Melbourne Cup?’
As is the nature of live TV, we didn’t have a huge amount of time to discuss it, but naturally there were many differing views amongst our panel and wider circles about what we learnt from the Cup.
In my opinion the real story of the Cup was Joseph O’Brien who at the tender age of 24 trained his first Melbourne Cup winner on his first attempt. A huge achievement and one that anyone would be immensely proud of. What is even more remarkable, and what a lot of people don’t know about, is what he had achieved even before embarking on that feat.
He won his first race as jockey aged 16 and just two years after that he won his first classic in the shape of the Irish 2000 Guineas aboard Roderick O’Connor.
The following year he won the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby aboard Camelot before his 20th birthday. In fact, in that same year he was Champion Jockey in his native Ireland, and the following year too.
After notching up Group 1 wins in five different countries and amassing more successes than most jockey's do in a lifetime, Joseph decided last year to turn his hand to training. In his first year, Intricately gave him his first Group 1 win in the Moyglare Stud Stakes and here he is with his second Group 1 in as many years.
All well and good I hear you say, but what do you expect, he is the son of Aidan O’Brien the ‘master of Ballydoyle’ who smashed the record of Group 1 wins in a season this year, he will have had all the best opportunities handed to him on a plate. Of course, a bit of nepotism helps, but it only gets you so far.
The Melbourne Cup victory was made all the poignant by the fact that Joseph’s Rekindling beat his father’s Johannes Vermeer into second spot denying him a first win in the race despite many more attempts. I have never heard the softly-spoken ultra-modest Aidan more elated and more jubilant than in the aftermath of the Cup, so proud he was for his son.
So now another Spring is officially over; the international horses have headed home or have been placed into new homes down under. Of course, racing continues over the summer, and there’s much that can happen between now and next year’s big race days. I look forward to what the next season brings!