AIDAN O’BRIEN may be having an average season by his very high standards but he still continues to re-write the flat racing record books.
His Epsom Oaks success on Friday with Tuesday was his 41st English Classic, beating a figure that has stood since 1863 when racing was a more parochial affair.
This was surely one of the most exciting of all his Classic victories as Ryan Moore got Tuesday’s (13/2) nose down right on the line to deny Frankie Dettori on the John Gosden favourite, Emily Upjohn (6/4). Nobody was sure which of them had made it, but it was a brilliant effort by Moore.
Tuesday was a late foal and actually celebrated her third birthday on the day of the race. Her rivals would have had up to five more months of growth and maturity behind them. For O’Brien to overcome this disadvantage was another tribute to his unique abilities.
A delighted Aidan called her “a very special filly. We thought it was going to be hard to come from the back but when we looked again Ryan was there challenging.
“He’s timed it to perfection. She’s never run over farther than a mile so we didn’t know what she was going to be able to do.”
Tuesday has settled those doubts now and there is surely more to come, with the Pretty Polly Stakes and the Irish Oaks on the immediate agenda.
Aidan has accumulated his 41 English classics in his 26 years as the private trainer for the Coolmore operation at Ballydoyle, with King of Kings setting the Classic ball rolling in the 1998 2,000 Guineas.
He also holds the Irish Classics record with 46, while he has won 96 European classics in all including all the main French races, and dozens of major events all over the world, with 13 Breeders’ Cups in his 29 top-flight wins in the US. He has won an astonishing 360+ Group 1 races worldwide with 175 different horses.
The 52-year-old genius from Killegney, Poulpeasty has many years left in the tank in normal circumstances.
It is too easy to take all this for granted, and he does have the backing of the world’s top bloodstock operation in Coolmore, but operating at such a rarefied level where failure is just not tolerated surely brings its own intense pressures and he has coped remarkably well.
Aidan seldom looks under stress and his attention to detail is legendary. He is invariably media-friendly and of course he is famous for being self-effacing and deflecting all the credit on to everyone but himself.
He made little impact on the Derby at Epsom on Saturday which was won by impressive favourite Desert Crown (5/2), under Richard Kingscote in only his second Derby ride.
It was a sixth Derby success by the doyen of English trainers, 76-year-old Sir Michael Stoute, whose previous win was twelve years ago.
Desert Crown was followed home by some remarkable outsiders – Hoo Ya Nal (150/1), unlucky Westover (25/1) and Masekela (66/1). O’Brien’s first home was Changingoftheguard (9/1) in fifth, followed by disappointing Stone Age (7/2) who did not seem to act on the track and failed to get home.
The Classic action moved to France on Sunday for their derby at Chantilly.
Rivals Moore and Dettori were on the one side this time on two O’Brien runners, Ivy League and Acropolis, but their big prices were a true reflection of their chances and they trailed in twelfth and 14th of 15 runners.
On the home front, there were no real fireworks this week in five meetings. O’Brien and Moore combined to win a two-year-old race over six furlongs at the Curragh on Wednesday with Age of Kings (4/7f), and they also had a couple of seconds with Auguste Rodin (4/6) and Over the Rainbow (10/3).
Jim Bolger ended the night with a winner at Leopardstown on Thursday, with Kevin Manning steering home well-backed I Have A Voice (8/1 into 4s) in a three-year-old handicap.
His Boundless Ocean (1/1f) just could not get to Cáirde Go Deo (11/10) for Ger Lyons in the €40k King George V Cup over a mile and a half and had to accept second.