Aidan Patrick O’Brien first took out a public training licence on June 7, 1993 and had the distinction of saddling his first winner, Wandering Thoughts, in a 7-furlong handicap at Tralee the same afternoon. Appointed as trainer at Ballydoyle, near Cashel, Co. Tipperary in 1996, as the successor to Michael Vincent O’Brien – whose son-in-law, John Magnier, now owns Ballydoyle and its sister thoroughbred facility, Coolmore Stud – Aidan O’Brien became the youngest ever British Champion Trainer in 2001, having turned 32 in October that year.
The highlight of that year was his first win in the Derby, with Galileo, who also won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but O’Brien also saddled Imagine to win the Oaks and Milan to win the St. Leger in a season in which his 20 winners from 99 runners on this side of the Irish Sea yielded £3.39 million in prize money. The following season, in which he was Champion Trainer again, O’Brien only saddled ten winners in Britain, but they included Rock Of Gibraltar, in the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, High Chaparral in the Derby and Hawk Wing in the Coral-Eclipse.
Having quickly become the pre-eminent force in Ireland – where, in fact, he’s been Champion Trainer every year since 1999 – has since been crowned Champion Trainer in Britain four more times, in 2007, 2008, 2016 and 2017. In 2008, Henrythenavigator followed in the footsteps of Rock Of Gibraltar by winning the 2,000 Guineas, the St. James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, while Duke Of Marmalade also completed a notable treble in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Juddmonte International Stakes.
However, it was in the latter years that O’Brien excelled himself, even by his own exemplary standards. In 2016, his 28 winners in Britain – including Minding, who won the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Nassau Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – yielded a record £8.31 million in prize money, more than double that amassed by his two nearest pursuers, John Gosden and Richard Fahey, put together. It was a similar story in 2017, with his 32 winners – including Winter in the 1,000 Guineas, Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas, Wings Of Eagles in the Derby and Capri in the St. Leger, to name but four – yielding £8.34 million in prize money.