Two of international sport’s greatest feats of 2017, with roots in one of the most famous stretches of green south Tipperary grassland, were honoured on Monday when father and son Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien were accorded a civic reception by Tipperary County Council.
Coolmore Stud outside Fethard was the venue for the event which saw family members, friends and colleagues of the world-conquering duo gather to help pay tribute to their achievements of last year.Aidan was honoured for his world record-breaking tally of 28 group one victories, eclipsing the previous record of 25 set by the late Bobby Frankel, while Joseph’s accolade came after victory in the Emirates Melbourne Cup in November when Rekindling became just the third horse from Ireland to colonise that race, of course beating his father’s Johannes Vermeer into second and Willie Mullins’s Max Dynamite into third.
Among the attendance were Aidan’s wife and Joseph’s mother AnneMarie O’Brien, along with Joseph’s siblings Donnacha, Sarah and Ana, as well as Aidan’s mother Stella O’Brien and members of AnneMarie’s family including her sister Frances Crowley and brother-in-law Pat Smullen.
“I’d like to say on behalf of AnneMarie and the lads how grateful we are and how much we appreciate all of this and how much of an honour we believe this is,” Aidan O’Brien said in acknowledgement of the civic reception, in a touching speech referring to some of the major influences of his life, including his mother and his late father.
He said he was “so lucky” to have been born into that family, and to have met AnneMarie and had “the four lads,” and to arrive in Ballydoyle back in the 1990s and begin working with John and Susan Magnier.
“We have so many people to be thankful to and be grateful to,” the multiple champion trainer said.
“The team at Ballydoyle, the team at Coolmore, all of Joseph’s team, I can’t tell you how grateful we are to everybody for this award.”
Joseph himself thanked all of the members and officials from Tipperary County Council for the award, and everyone at Coolmore including Maurice Moloney for hosting the occasion.
Proposing the civic reception, cathaoirleach of the council Dr Phyll Bugler said the achievements of the O’Briens was an expression of the strength of the equine industry in Co Tipperary and stressed the importance of Coolmore and Ballydoyle, with a combined workforce of about 1,000 people, to the local economy.