O'Brien scores a rare double as Gorbatov storms to glory
THERE are few in the sport that have claimed success in the Derby as a rider and overseen the preparations of a Cheltenham Festival winner but Joseph O’Brien can now boast that on his CV after Ivanovich Gorbatov stormed to glory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
While the licence may be in the name of his father, Aidan, for all intents and purposes the four-year-old has, since being switched from the Flat, been trained by the 22-year-old at his Piltown base following his recent decision to retire from the saddle.
Question marks had been placed over the JP McManus-owned gelding coming into the Grade One contest after meeting with defeat at Leopardstown over Christmas, but with plausible excuses for that reversal, a return to winning ways came as little to surprise to connections.
The winner was introduced at 16-1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle with Betway, while both Paddy Power and BoyleSports went 16-1 for the same race.
Joseph O’Brien said: “It’s unbelievable, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. It’s very hard to put into words what I’m thinking right now.
“I was very hopeful but Barry was more confident than anyone, he rode him the last day and was happy to put a line through it, he just said the ground was to blame. He got off that day and said he didn’t jump or travel and that he hated the ground.
“No doubt he was always going to be better on better ground. He could be entitled to step up into that grade (Champion Hurdle), but it will be a huge step up.
“It’s not really sunk in yet. It’s hard to compare (to winning the Derby) but it’s right up there.
“When you are riding you don’t get chance to take in the whole occasion, but now you don’t have much to do on the day itself as the job is done. When you’re riding, everything you do is on the day.”
He added: “My (training) course is on in May and hopefully I’ll pass and I’ll be able to go training from there.
“It won’t just be jumpers I’ll train - it’ll be a 50/50 split between Flat horses and National Hunt horses, about 70 in all.”