Regarded by all in the industry as a true gentleman, the breeding and racing industries lost a true friend of our ranks on Saturday the 16th of May 2020.
Kevin O’Brien passed away peacefully after living a life full of family, success and memories.
Kevin along with wife Tanith, founded Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm at Corinella in Victoria’s south-east. Prior to establishing Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm, Kevin had a successful career in the caravan industry.
Kevin started a company called Camec in 1963 after recognising the need for a specialised caravan repair centre to accommodate the growing caravan and tourism industries.
The company was successful and saw a boom in the 1990’s which led to Camec acquiring their competitor Caraparts and expanding their locations across Australia. Camec became the country’s leading supplier of caravan equipment and accessories.
Kevin served as president of the Caravan Trade and Industries Association of Victoria (CIAV) from 1990 to 1995 and was a founding director of the industry national body, the Caravan Industry of Australia, serving as Chairman from 1992 to 1997. He was awarded the Eric Hayman Award for Excellence in 1995; the industry’s highest individual honour. He was made a life member of the CIAV in 2000 and inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2013.
An introduction to the racing industry by way of race horse ownership had Kevin hooked. A horse he leased with a group of mates from footy, Fighting Legend (Street Fighter x Rosy Legend), was the introduction over 40 years ago which paved the way for his successful career in breeding and racing.
While according to Kevin, Fighting Legend ‘didn’t live up to his name’. He purchased a tried horse named Poncho who was trained by Angus Armanasco. Poncho had a full career and won 17 starts as a racehorse.
Proud of his Irish ancestors, visits to Ireland inspired Kevin to pay tribute to his forebearers by creating the orange and emerald green quarter silks which have been seen regularly on race tracks across Australia.
There has been no shortage of horses either bred or raced by Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm to have carried these colours.
One horse in particular held a special place in Kevin’s heart. Gold Edition, a mare Kevin purchased in 2005 at a Gold Coast Magic Millions yearling sale, won the VRC Ascot Vale Stakes in 2006 (now the G1 VRC Coolmore Stakes), the G1 MVRC Manikato Stakes in 2007 and a host of Group 2 wins in addition to the 2007 Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO.
Horses and success are synonymous with Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm. Each year their main draft of horses would be at the Melbourne Premier sale at Oaklands Junction.
Global Glamour who was bred at Lauriston, achieved dual Group 1 winning status before she was sold as a broodmare to Coolmore and Gerry Harvey. Other horses bred or mated by Lauriston Thoroughbred Farm to have graced our tracks include General Truce, Legend of Condor, Platinum Angel, Pippie, Eptimum, Tudor, Silentz, Kardashing, Undoubtable Miss and Jentico.
Kevin served as a Committee member on the Melbourne Racing Club Committee from 2007 -2010.
MRC Chairman, Peter Le Grand who served alongside Kevin on the Committee remarked;
“He was just a champion fellow and one of those truly great people of the turf, unassuming, loved his racing and horse breeding.”
“You speak to anyone in racing and you’ll never hear a detrimental word about Kevin O’Brien,” Le Grand said.
Kevin was one who many defined as a mentor. Everyone you speak to has fond memories of Kevin, such as the hospitable and generous manner in which he would always make time when you visited the farm. Everyone remarked about what a true gentleman he was and how welcome he would make you feel. Whether at the farm, Oaklands or the race track, Kevin would find time to tell you a story and had a witty sense of humour.
He gave people opportunities in the industry such as young trainers, apprentice jockeys and staff. Those who worked alongside him noted that he was a pleasure to work along.
He loved sharing the success he had on the track with friends and those in the industry.
The outpouring of grief on social media has been immense. It signifies the impact which Kevin had on those in the industry.
Kevin is survived by his beloved wife Tanith, his children James, Gabby and Georgina and their families.
The Funeral Service for Kevin O’Brien will be held for close family and friends on Friday 22 May 2020 at 11:15am.
The service will be webcast live and can be accessed by clicking here.
Tributes have been greatly appreciated by the family and can be left on Kevin’s tribute page, by clicking here.