Behind The O’Brien Trophy

With numerous O'Brien Awards handed out each year, people have gotten quite familiar with Canadian harness racing's top honour. Although, there is much more to the average O'Brien Award than what meets the eye.

In this piece, the SC Marketing Department would like to give everyone a brief explanation of the creator of the O'Brien Award and the process behind how each trophy comes to be.

The Artist

A talented equine artist, Canadian Dawn Hardy’s flair for capturing the magnificence of horses in the medium of bronze and her sharp enthusiasm for our four-legged friends make her the obvious choice for crafting the important O’Brien trophy.

Hardy’s earliest work was commissioned by the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede and the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, but her audience grew quickly and she soon enjoyed exhibitions across the United States. In 1983, she established her own foundry and created pieces that are now found in many museum, corporate, and private collections across the globe, as well as on the cover of ‘The Chronicle of the Horse.’ Hardy has since branched out into the world of creative writing and has published several children’s books and received development funding from CTV for her first full-length screenplay.

The Trophy

Designed from photographs alone, each unique O’Brien trophy is made of bronze, weighs approximately seven pounds, stands about 12 inches high, and is worth approximately $1,500.

Hardy created the clay mould with the help of Joe’s widow, ensuring the expression of the piece upheld Joe O’Brien’s true character and disposition.

The process used to create the finished trophy is an ancient sculpting technique termed 'lost wax casting.' It involves completing an original clay sculpture, a rubber mould, a wax coating, a silica-stucco mould and finally the finished product - a bronze O’Brien masterpiece.

Those that have dreamed of winning one of the handsome trophies knows that it’s true value lies far deeper than it’s material attributes. Each and every O’Brien trophy represents the immense pride and momentous contributions of the champions of the Canadian harness racing industry.

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