O'Brien is 'greatest' trainer - Moore
Ryan Moore has hailed Aidan O'Brien as the greatest trainer of them all, stressing how his horses can still be improving long after they have made their debut runs.
Two understated characters who have formed a superbly successful axis this decade, Moore and O'Brien have enjoyed top-level success this year with dual Guineas winners Churchill and Winter, as well as the likes of Highland Reel and Roly Poly.
And it is the sustained progress steeds in Ballydoyle can make that seems to astound Moore most. Moore, who has been compared to Lester Piggott in terms of his greatness and also his taciturn manner, gave generously when speaking to the Irish Independent at yesterday's launch of Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
While the 33-year-old cannot recall the circumstances of the initial teaming up with O'Brien, he said: "I've been riding for him for eight or nine years now and it's just been a pleasure from day one. He is a true gentleman.
"There is probably nobody ever better at his job. Everybody knows how dedicated he is. It's honestly just a privilege to ride for him. I've been very lucky to ride for him for that amount of time."
The rider, deemed by many to be the best in the world, extolled O'Brien's ability to keep improving his runners.
"It's not just from the debut his horses improve: it's second to third run, third to fourth, some their fifth to sixth. A prime example would be Clemmie this year."
Moore has ridden both Clemmie, a brother to Churchill, and September, perhaps the two smartest two-year-old fillies to have run this term, and revised his own previous assessment that Clemmie might be the better of the pair, which head the betting for next year's English 1,000 Guineas.
"That's evolving all the time and it's very hard to say. They are all stepping up to seven furlongs now. Clemmie is a similar build to Churchill, a similar sort of shape but a little smaller. She's a very elegant filly."
The Brighton native was the star attraction at the Merrion Hotel launch, which was also attended by O'Brien, Jim Bolger and Pat Smullen. Bolger's attempts to persuade Moore to tog out for his Hurling For Cancer charity match next Tuesday seemed to have failed, but a jovial mood prevailed.
Moore admits he is unsure what will be running for Ballydoyle in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes. He said: "Almanzor was very impressive last year and obviously had his problems but his yard's horses are running well and I'm sure there will be a few other ones there. We will get York out of the way and see then."
Moore said he was looking forward to riding two-year-olds at the Curragh on September 10 and defended its staging the Irish Derby, arguing that the mile-and-a-half course was far from ideal at Leopardstown and also noted its lack of a five-furlong facility.
According to Curragh CEO Derek McGrath, the in-field area will be in use for some patrons on the Sunday of Irish Champions Weekend, which many had called for to cater for a crowd at the Irish Derby fixture.
His Leopardstown counterpart Pat Keogh insisted that the Champions Weekend concept had to improve or it would go backwards, while O'Brien said its impact on racing here had been "immense".
Meanwhile, his daughter Ana tweeted a message yesterday showing her walking around the yard, while she wore a neck brace. "It's a big change for her, it will take time," said her father, adding that she was "lucky and unlucky" after a shocking Killarney fall that could have left her paralysed.