Previously a champion jockey, now a champion trainer – Donnacha O’Brien has taken out the Prix de Diane at Chantilly on Sunday.
Having only taken out his trainers licence earlier this year, O’Brien led home an Irish one-two punch in what can only be described as one of racing’s feel-good moments of the year.
The son of famous trainer Aidan O’Brien – Donnacha’s charge Fancy Blue gave the newcomer his first Classic success in the French Oaks, going one better than his second placed in the Irish 1,000 Guineas – behind only his father, only three weeks earlier.
First in that race was O’Brien senior’s Peaceful, as the two reacquainted themselves in the French Oaks where Fancy Blue got one back on her rival.
While the rivalry was re-stoked, pundits couldn’t rule out the Jessica Harrington-trained Alpine Star who was looking to follow up her good work in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot last month.
Stephane Pasquier was steering Alpine Star, but Fancy Blue under the trust guise of Pierre-Charles Boudot eventually wore her down to claim a narrow win, with Peaceful the eventual third.
21-year-old O’Brien was understandably pleased with his first Classic victory in what has been a short training career to date.
“There’s so much pressure and a lot of work goes into it, but this feeling is great and thank God she won,” he said.
“I always knew she was a very good filly and we always thought the step up in trip would suit her. It definitely did.
“Pierre is a very good rider and I told him to do what he wants. There was no pace early so he went forward on her and sat upsides the leader.
“It was exactly what I would have liked him to do. She quickened up well and stuck at it. Fair play to Pierre, he gave her a peach of a ride.
“The home straight felt like a lifetime, I didn’t really know what was going on. Thankfully at the end of it all she got her head in front.
On her next assignment, O’Brien said his camp
“We’ll get her home and see how she is. We might have a look at the Irish Oaks at the Curragh.”
He added: “I’ve really enjoyed the training so far and if I keep getting horses who can run in big races like the French Oaks I will keep on enjoying it! This means a lot. The lads at home are the ones putting in the work and I’m delighted for them more than anything.”