Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 20 January 2018

Mixed day for maestro O'Brien after plane woes


'Yesterday was something of a logistical logjam for O’Brien'. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
'Yesterday was something of a logistical logjam for O’Brien'. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Johnny Ward

Aidan O'Brien approaches the Investec Derby with six runners this afternoon - but his main ambition will be that they all get to the track smoothly.

For yesterday was something of a logistical logjam for O'Brien, whose Rhododendron came up short in the Oaks but whose Highland Reel scored a superb success in the other Grade One, the Coronation Cup.

His team of runners endured an unusually troubled passage to Epsom after lengthy delays to their flight. The problems began early in the morning when his runners had a long wait to make the trip over to Farnborough airport.

He said: "Nothing went right with the travel. We were just expecting to take off when the fuel that was going into the plane starting going over the wing and down the other side. So everything had to be evacuated and we had to wait.

"The lads took off about 11.0 and were waiting at the airport from 7.0. They (were at the track) since 2.0. Everyone was a big help. Strange things can happen.

"It does make a difference. We'd have preferred if they were here earlier so they could be relaxed, have more time to chill."

O'Brien, who won all British and Irish Classics this year until the Frankie Dettori-ridden Enable upset Rhododendron in the Oaks, provides long-time Derby favourite today in Cliffs Of Moher, the mount of Ryan Moore.

Much of the pre-race chat has centred on 1,000/1 rag Diore Lia, running to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Intended jockey Gina Mangan was barred from taking the ride by the British Horseracing Authority. Little-known Paddy Pilley takes the mount.

Irish Independent

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