Flying the Irish flag in the Racing League are some of the youngest and most famous riders and coaches on the Emerald Isle.
Brothers Joseph and Donnacha O’Brien, aged 28 and 23 respectively, join forces as the Irish heading to Newcastle on Thursday for the first day of the race.
Following fairly similar paths, each O’Brien enjoyed a relatively short but highly successful career as a jockey before joining his father Aidan as first-class coaches.
Older brother Joseph has 12 Group One wins to his name, including an Irish Derby, while Donnacha is also off to a brilliant start in his first 18 months as a licensee, with two Group One successes already.
David Egan leads the team’s trio of riders, having gone from strength to strength in recent seasons, including winning the $ 20 million Saudi Cup aboard Mishriff earlier this year.
He is joined by last year’s champion trainee in Ireland, Gavin Ryan, and potential champion-in-waiting Dylan Browne McMonagle.
View from the stables
Joseph O’Brien …
“Donnacha is off to a great start to her training career and I’m looking forward to being on the same team as my brother.
“Dylan Brown McMonagle has had a great year, Gavin Ryan is a good and strong driver and David Egan has had a fantastic couple of years, internationally and in the UK. We were lucky that David had a winner for us on last year and hopefully we can join a few more in the next six weeks.
“Kevin Blake will spend most of his time trying to get in front of the camera and in the photos!”
Donnacha O’Brien …
“Joseph O’Brien is the backbone of our team, providing most of the ammunition, and Kevin Blake is the brains of the operation.
“David Egan is probably the richest member of our team after his exploits at Mishriff. He is a first-class driver and we are lucky to have him.”
“Dylan Browne McMonagle will be a champion trainee in Ireland this year and it is good value for his 3 pound claim.
“My stable rider, Gavin Ryan, is a very good rider and uses his big head very well.”
The manager’s view
Kevin Blake …
“Joseph O’Brien is one of the oldest members of our team at the age of 28. He has only been training for five years, but has had several Group One winners, so he is not doing too badly. He will form. most of the team.
“Donnacha O’Brien is an icebreaker. She turned 23 the other day and has only been training for 18 months, after being a successful jockey.
“He’s had two Group One winners already, so he’s doing well.
“David Egan is our senior rider on the Ireland team at just 22 years old. He is making his way to the head table and his riding makes up for the lack of good looks.”