O'Brien holds his nerve as Camelot chases historic Triple Crown in St Ledger
17:35 GMT, 14 September 2012
He is the boy who took on a man's job, defying the old adage in spectacular fashion, and who now stands on the verge of history.
Jockey Joseph O'Brien appears devoid
of nerves ahead riding 2-5 favourite Camelot against eight opponents in
Saturday's Ladbrokes St Leger.
That's the advantage of having 19-years-old's perspective, untainted by the creeping fear of failure.
Favourite: Camelot ridden by jockey Joseph O'Brien
Securing the Triple Crown would ensure O'Brien's name is as entwined with his mount as that of legendary Lester Piggott is with Nijinsky, the last horse to achieve the feat 42 years ago.
Success would also make O'Brien the youngest winner of the world's oldest Classic since 18-year-old Samuel Day was successful on Mango in 1837 and offer further vindication of his father, trainer Aidan O'Brien, to make him the No 1 jockey at his Ballydoyle stable.
The wisdom handing the massive responsibility to the youngster was questioned. This job of riding for Europe's biggest stable and its Coolmore Sud backers has chewed up and spat out top riders like Jamie Spencer, Mick Kinane and Johnny Murtagh.
But while there have been minor setbacks, Joseph has landed a remarkable 10 group one races since last year's Leger meeting.
Kinane, who landed 2001 Leger for O'Brien on Milan, said: 'It's probably a bit easier because Aidan is his father and they have formed a good team. He has had support which some of us wouldn't have had at certain times when things started to go wrong and you are left a bit isolated.
'It's a good family environment which is important but he seems to have a good racing brain tactically. He knows it's a pressure cooker job and he's handles it well.' There was never much doubt O'Brien, who attended Rockwell College near Cashel in Co Tipperary, would be a jockey.
He said: 'Dad always said never let school interfere with my education. I passed my exams but I never liked school. When I was in there all I ever wanted to do was ride on the gallops.
'I played a bit of hurling, soccer and rugby but I didn't last long playing rugby. I was on the wing but I was thrown about a bit.
'I've been around horses since I can remember. I was quite young when we came to Ballydoyle but remember Galileo. Istabraq was a great horse but Camelot is up with the best of them. 'I've seen all the videos of Nijinsky and Lester Piggott but if Camelot could emulate him it would be unbelievable. 'There no such thing as a certainty in racing but Camelot has the form going into the race. He is a Guineas and Derby winner.
'He'll be hard to beat but over a mile and six, you never know until you go and do it. It's that extra two furlongs. It does not sound much but it is a long, long way and a lot further than he's run before.'
The ticking time bomb behind Joseph's career is physiological.
Can a wafer-thin six-footer remain a Flat jockey long-term despite a strict regime meaning he is currently winning this battle.
He added: 'I can do 8st 12lb if I really have to but I try keep it at 9st. If you try to kill yourself all year, you are not going to last. You'd fry your own head if you were in the sauna every day of the week.
'I would like to ride over jumps but it's very tough when you see the likes of Ruby (Walsh) and AP (McCoy) and the injuries they have. They are the best ever but it is a long way down the road.
'Adrenaline kicks ins. You never feel tired in a race no matter how bad you feel before when you are wasting but when you get to ride a horse like Camelot it is all worth it.
'He's a jockeys dream. It comes very naturally to him. He comes alive in your hands. He's not like any other horse I have ridden – he is very special'