Date of Birth: July 22, 1998
County of origin: Tipperary
First winner: Quartz (Aidan O'Brien) Dundalk, September 7,
Final winner: Nobel Prize (Aidan O'Brien) Naas, November 3, 2019
Champion Jockey: 2018, 2019
Champion Apprentice Jockey: 2016
Assoc. Trainers: Aidan
O'Brien, Joseph O'Brien
Significant horses: Magna Grecia, Latrobe, Ten Sovereigns, Magical, Saxon Warrior, Forever
Together, Intricately, Order Of St George, Fairyland, Happily,
Nelson, El Salvador, Baraweez
Follow Donnacha on Twitter: @donnacha_obrien
Did you know?
A son of Aidan O'Brien, Donnacha enjoyed a brief but hugely successful career in the saddle before joining the training ranks in late 2019. He had just turned 16 when
he rode his first winner on his father's Quartz at Dundalk in September, 2014.
Big race success quickly came the teenager's way and the following month he
landed the Irish Cesarewitch on El Salvador at the Curragh.
His first Listed win came in the Saval Beg Stakes at
Leopardstown on Kingfisher in June, 2015 and his first Group success arrived when
Order Of St George won the Group 3 Palmerstown House Estate Irish St Leger
Trial Stakes at the Curragh on August 20th, 2016.
But better was to come at the same course on Longines
Irish Champions Weekend the following month when Donnacha captured his first
Group 1 win on Intricately, trained by his brother Joseph, in the Moyglare Stud
Stakes. The filly, bred by their mother Anne Marie, was also giving Joseph his
first training success at the highest level.
Donnacha was crowned champion apprentice rider at the end
of the 2016 season. Donnacha rode out his claim when successful on his father's
San Remo in the Dundalk Stadium Handicap at Dundalk on Wednesday, April 12,
Donnacha was 19 years old when he landed his first
Classic victory when partnering Saxon Warrior, trained by Aidan O'Brien, to win
the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 5, 2018. Early the following month,
he won the Epsom Oaks on Forever Together, trained by his father, and just
weeks later won the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh when Latrobe
prevailed in a thrilling renewal. Donnacha's brother Joseph trained Latrobe
which beat horses trained by Aidan O'Brien into second, third, fourth and fifth
Donnacha reached yet another milestone when he rode 100
winners in a season for the first time at Dundalk on September 28, 2018. At the
end of the 2018 season, Donnacha was crowned champion jockey for the first time
with 111 winners.
Planning for life out of the saddle, O'Brien completed the
Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's Pre-Racehorse Trainers Development Course
in May, 2019. Earlier in the same month, he had added to his Classic haul when
he won the English 2,000 Guineas on Magna Grecia. Donnacha won nine Group 1 races in all, the final being the QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot in October 2019 on the Aidan O'Brien-trained
Donnacha was crowned champion jockey for the second time at Naas on November 3, 2019. In a season that saw two jockeys record a three-figure tally for the first time, he retained the title with 111 winners and beating the 2017 champion Colin Keane by eight winners.
Just three weeks later, he announced his retirement for the saddle, saying, "After thinking about things for a while I have decided to concentrate on training next year. Riding has been very good to me and I owe everything to the people around me. I want to give special thanks to the Magnier, Smith and Tabor families along with my own family for all their support. I look forward to training a small group of horses next year and will hopefully build from there.”