Thursday 23 February 2017

O'Brien: Frankel record no influence on rest of season

Johnny Ward

Trainer John Kiely, Stan James Head of Marketing Ed Nicholson and Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh at the track yesterday. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Trainer John Kiely, Stan James Head of Marketing Ed Nicholson and Leopardstown CEO Pat Keogh at the track yesterday. Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Aidan O'Brien has a live chance of beating the late Bobby Frankel's world record of Group/Grade One winners in a season but insists he is not even aware of what his own personal best is in that regard.

The Ballydoyle supremo trained the first, second and third in Sunday's Arc, with Found leading home Highland Reel and Order Of St George. It was a sensational achievement and it brought his top-flight tally for the season to 18.

Though this is seven shy of Frankel's record 25, there is a long way to go in the worldwide campaign. Frankel, after whom the legendary horse trained by Henry Cecil was named, set the record 25 in 2003. O'Brien came within one winner of it with 24 in 2001.

With Churchill odds-on for Saturday's Dubai Dewhurst Stakes and Rhododendron short in the market for the Fillies Mile on Friday, the Wexford native could be up to 20 by the weekend, with lots of more top-level races to fight for this year.

Paddy Power go just 5/2 that he will better Frankel's record in 2016. However, he says it will have no influence whatever on how his superstars are campaigned.

The trainer told the Irish Independent: "We don't ever think about anything like that. It never comes into it in any way: we do best by every horse when each race comes along.

"Essentially we do our best, we do right by the horses. Obviously the people come first and the horses come second. It's the way we always have been.

"I am not even sure what my best record is. Nothing will be changed because of anything to do (with records)."

O'Brien hailed Found as "an amazing filly" and said he "wouldn't be sure" that she would stay in training at five. However, she may be seen again this year. It was a win which propelled the brilliant filly firmly into contention for top honours at the prestigious Cartier Racing Awards next month.

"She is a great mare and we were trying not go a mile and a half very often with her because she is so genuine; she gives it all. Even at a mile she has proper top-class form."

O'Brien's Coolmore allies could have unearthed another world-beater yesterday as a Frankel colt out of the former Group One Lockinge winner Peeress went to the stud for 1.3m guineas.

Leopardstown have secured bookmaker Stan James as sponsor of what was the Hennessy Gold Cup for the next three renewals.

This season's race takes place on February 12 and has a purse of €150,000. The race was won by Carlingford Lock, which visited the track yesterday along with his trainer John Kiely, when it was without a sponsor last year.

The major-race sponsorship agreement suggests that Stan James is eager to increase its share of the online market in the Republic of Ireland, where the English firm no longer has any betting shops.

Hereford racecourse reopens its doors to jump racing under rules for the first time in four years today. There are 64 runners spread across seven races. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is sending three runners. Hereford stages another three fixtures in 2016 and 11 meetings in 2017.

Leading owner JP McManus and equine superstars Big Buck's and Quevega were yesterday inducted into the Cheltenham Hall of Fame.

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