Dr Vincent O’Brien – Special Tribute From President Mary McAleese

The President of Ireland Mrs Mary McAleese has paid a special tribute to horse trainer Dr Michael Vincent O’Brien who, sadly, died yesterday.

President McAleese said:

“As one of the most successful horse trainers in the industry, he played a key role in the establishment of Ireland as a centre of racing excellence”.

Dr O’Brien returned from his wife’s family home in Perth, Western Australia, just last week due to ill-health and died yesterday at his home in Straffan,County Kildare. Dr O’Brien was the owner of the Ballydoyle yard and the Coolmore stud, situated in the richest farmland in Europe,  near Fethard, Cashel, Co. Tipperary and enjoyed over 75 major victories in a career that spanned more than 50 years in horse racing.

The current incumbent of Ballydoyle, Mr Aidan O’Brien said:

“It is with the greatest sadness that I learned of the passing of Dr Vincent O’Brien today.  As for so many people in racing, he was my hero growing up. For my wife Anne Marie and myself to come to Ballydoyle, to the training facility he established, was an extraordinary privilege. Dr O’Brien was tireless in improving the yards and gallops and we enjoy today the benefits of his half-century of hard work and dedication”.

vincent-obrienThe 92 year old Dr O’Brien was born in Churchtown, Co Cork in 1917.  He was voted,  in 2003, as the greatest National Hunt Trainer of the 20th century, and was later voted the greatest Flat Trainer of the 20th century. In a pole to find the greatest figure in the history of horse racing hosted by the Racing Post newspaper, Vincent O’Brien came first with 28% of the total vote, with his long-time stable jockey Lester Piggott placed second out of a pool of 100 contenders who had been carefully selected by a panel of racing experts.

Vincent O’Brien married author and photographer Jacqueline Wittenoom, from Perth, Australia, in 1951 and had five children. Daughters Elizabeth (widow of Kevin McClory), Susan (wife of John Magnier) and Jane (wife of Philip Myerscough); and sons Charles and David who followed in their father’s footsteps as trainers, as did Vincent’s grandson David Myerscough. Grandsons J P Magnier and M V Magnier have ridden with success as amateur jockeys.

Dr O’Brien and his wife Jacqueline latterly spent half of each year in her home town of Perth, Australia and the remainder of the year in Straffan,Co. Kildare , here in Ireland

Dr Vincent O’Brien’s funeral will take place at St Conleth’s Church in Newbridge at noon on Thursday next, followed by a private cremation. (Family flowers only)

The O’Brien family would be very grateful for donations, in lieu of flowers, to be made to The Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Funeral arrangements will be by Fanagans Funeral Directors 54 Aungiers Street, Dublin 2, Dublin.


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