Horse Trainer - Victoria
Over the past two decades, Danny O’Brien has proven himself to be one of Australia's finest thoroughbred horse trainers as he continually produces outstanding results. His ability to place horses ideally has ensured that he has maintained a strike rate to make him the envy of his competitors.
From an early age, Danny was destined to be involved with horses. He was raised on a Kyabram property, which bred and reared racehorses, and Danny's love of the animal commenced as a child.
After completing his schooling – as a board at Xavier College, followed by a law and economics degree at Melbourne University – Danny set about chasing his passion.
His thirst for knowledge and passion of horses continued as he worked alongside some of Australia's top trainers. He worked for master trainer Bart Cummings before taking up the foreman’s position with Caulfield trainer James Riley.
A true horseman, with a "hands on" approach, Danny secured his training licence and his career commenced at Epsom in 1995 at the age of 25 with just one horse – Mad Hatter.
Within months that one horse helped Danny make his presence felt. Mad Hatter gave him his first metropolitan winner on Boxing Day 1995 at Sandown and went on to run sixth in the 1996 Australian Guineas to Flying Spur.
With his cash from Mad Hatter’s win Danny headed to the Magic Millions Sales and purchased a filly, later named Kirkberg, and she became his first black-type winner when she took out the 1996 Maribyrnong Trial Stakes at Flemington on debut.
Since those early days Danny has accomplished numerous Group and Stakes victories throughout Australia with horses such as Glamour Puss, Master O'Reilly, Star Witness, Douro Valley, Valedictum, Porto Roca, Absolut Glam, Juste Momente, Demerger, Ferocity, Shamrocker, and Shamexpress just to name a few. Having won Group 1 races in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, he is not afraid to travel his team.
He took Glamour Puss to England to compete in the Global Sprint Challenge, Douro Valley to compete on International Day at Sha Tin in Hong Kong as well as Valedictum and Barbaricus for the rich Dubai autumn carnival in 2009. In 2011, Star Witness ran placings in the King's Stand Stakes and the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot.
Danny has made a habit of producing history making results. He became the first trainer in over a century to achieve the Group 1 winning double of training the SAJC Goodwood Handicap/Adelaide Cup winners in 2005.
That same year, he produced two Group 1 winners over the Melbourne Cup Carnival. He then went on to lead in the quinella in the 2007 Group 1 Caulfield Cup with Master O'Reilly downing stablemate Douro Valley, something last achieved 25 years before.
A noted trainer of older horses, Danny enhanced his reputation when he guided two-year-old colt Star Witness to victory in the 2010 Blue Diamond and then the Coolmore Stud Stakes the following Spring Carnival. The follow autumn Shamrocker became the first filly in history to beat the boys in both the Group 1 Australian Guineas and then in Sydney in the Group 1 ATC Derby.
O'Brien tasted one of his finest moments in March 2013, when he trained flashy three-year-old colt Shamexpress to take out the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap down the straight of his hometrack.
Then in the Spring of 2013, O'Brien cemented his place as a trainer with an uncanny knack of making a stallion when he took out his second major winning the Cox Plate with three-year-old colt Shamus Award. What made the feat even more amazing was the fact it was the horse's first win of his career, which had followed nine black-type starts including seven placings. The colt became the first maiden to win the weight-for-age championship of Australasia in the race's 91-year history.
Shamus Award then returned in the Autumn to win O'Brien's second Australian Guineas with an impressive all-the-way performance, becoming the first colt in history to win the Cox Plate and the premier three-year-old event of the Autumn.
It has been a strong start to a career that Danny has nurtured through hard work, dedication and ambition with a clear vision to be the leading racehorse training operation in Australia.
Whilst Danny's priority is to train winners, he has set up a structure around him to ensure that his horses, clients and staff enjoy the thoroughbred racing experience. With a training base at Australia’s greatest racecourse, Flemington, and a 160-acre private training complex at Barwon Heads, less than 100kms out of Melbourne, the future looks very bright.
So successful is Danny's operation and brand, leading Thoroughbred Racing and Melbourne Cup Sponsor, Emirates, have secured his services through sponsorship to assist with their promotion of racing in Australia.