Formerly a key member of Aidan O’Brien’s team for more than a decade, Colm O’Donoghue is now No 1 rider for Jessie Harrington and his decision to move from Ballydoyle has been gloriously vindicated.
Punters who have followed him have also been well rewarded on occasions, especially in the Investec Oaks of 2015 when he guided the O’Brien-trained Qualify to a shock victory at 50-1.
His Group 1 victories before that had included the Phoenix Stakes at The Curragh in 2002, the French 2000 Guineas (Poule d’Essai des Poulains) at Longchamp in 2007, the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud in Paris in 2009 on Jan Vermeer and the Canadian International at Woodbine in 2010, winning on Joshua Tree, again for Aidan O’Brien
He nearly made a big early impact in the first QIPCO British Champions Series race on board the longest-priced of O’Brien’s three runners in the 2011 QIPCO 1000 Guineas, Together.
Having held off the challenge of Maqaasid, he looked set for victory, only for Frankie Dettori and Blue Bunting to storm past him close home. He suffered an agonisingly similar fate in the Investec Derby, leading over a furlong out on Treasure Beach and looking sure to win, before being nailed just before the line by the late run of Pour Moi.
After a quiet period, he won the Irish Oaks on board Bracelet in 2014 and the following year came that perfectly-timed run with Qualify to land the Oaks.
O’Donoghue added to his 2015 QIPCO British Champions Series tally when partnering Bondi Beach to a controversial victory in the St Leger. Having passed the post in second behind Simple Verse, the O’Brien colt was awarded the race in the stewards’ room.
However, 11 days later, the placings were reverted back to the original result with Simple Verse being handed the race following a successful appeal by connections.
Most recent successes for O’Donoghue in the Series has come in the shape of Alpha Centauri in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes and Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, both in 2018 for Jessica Harrington.