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Keeping it in the family: 'Wizard of Ballydoyle's' master apprentice

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Story highlights

  • The rising star of champion trainer Aidan O'Brien's stable is his own son Joseph
  • The pair are the first father-and-son to win the Epsom Derby as trainer and jockey
  • Joseph jokes their plans "don't always go to plan" but the pair have had great success
  • O'Brien says Joseph could one day take over training at the prestigious Coolmore stable

The man they call the "Wizard of Ballydoyle" has got a master apprentice.

Irish champion trainer Aidan O'Brien has a reputation as a brilliant tutor of horses, but his most prized protege is now his eldest son, Joseph.

The pair galloped into the history books last season as the first father and son -- in the role of trainer and jockey -- to win England's Epsom Derby, one of the world's most famous flat races, with Camelot.

"It works well," Joseph, who is his father's first-choice jockey, told CNN's Winning Post.

"We both discuss what way we're going to ride the horse and it doesn't always go to plan -- it usually doesn't -- but when it does it is great."

Joseph is lean, rosy-cheeked and softly-spoken -- and modest too.

    The 20-year-old rode his first winner, trained by his father, at Leopardstown in 2009 just days after his 16th birthday.

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    Since then the O'Brien father-and-son combination has claimed high-profile victories in England, Ireland, the U.S. and Dubai on celebrated horses including Camelot and St Nicholas Abbey.

    "I suppose Joseph has never known anything else since he was a baby," said O'Brien, surveying the Ballydoyle yard tucked away in the heart of the Irish countryside in County Tipperary.

    Read: Ruler of the World wins Derby for O'Brien

    "He probably knows how we think better than anybody. He knows when it goes wrong too -- he's the first to admit it."

    O'Brien learnt his trade from his own father, a farmer and small-scale trainer in County Wexford, Ireland, before becoming a jockey, who dabbled in training on the side.

    The 44-year-old was Ireland's amateur champion jockey but it was his knack of training horses that saw him snapped up by Coolmore, Ireland's global breeding and training powerhouse, in 1995.

    He has been Ireland's champion trainer since 1998 and British champion trainer four times, guiding great horses such as Giant's Causeway, Galileo and High Chapparal.

    With such a prestigious brand to protect, not to mention family honor, does O'Brien treat his son differently?

    "No, I don't think so," answered O'Brien in a straightforward manner. "He's seen it all and heard it all good and bad.

    "It's obviously a much closer relationship as we all live together but it's more or less the same."

    Joseph agrees that he is not treated any differently by his father to the other jockeys charged with riding potential winners home.

    "There's always a little bit of pressure," he explained. "But I like pressure because when the pressure's on it means you'll be sensible."

    Dynasty in safe hands

    The pressure just might increase on Joseph at some point in the future.

    As well as being his father's favored jockey, O'Brien has named him as his potential successor.

    "I'd be delighted," said O'Brien. "He'd have to be finished riding at that stage but those things are a long way down the road.

    "We'll look forward to it when it does happen."

    At least Joseph does not have to worry about sustaining the O'Brien dynasty alone.

    The 20-year-old is the eldest of four children and O'Brien -- whose wife Anne-Marie was also a trainer -- already has them all riding out to exercise the horses.

    No wonder Ballydoyle has a reputation for breeding future stars of the turf -- and the training yard.

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