Wednesday 18 September 2019

O'Brien looks to build on Group One record

Trainer Aidan O’Brien (centre) after Hydrangea won The QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes Race at Ascot yesterday. Photo: PA
Trainer Aidan O’Brien (centre) after Hydrangea won The QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes Race at Ascot yesterday. Photo: PA

Aidan O'Brien is likely to throw plenty of ammunition at the three Group One races in Europe next weekend in an attempt to claim the world record for most top-level victories in a year outright.

The master of Ballydoyle drew level on 25 victories with the late Bobby Frankel when Hydrangea won the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot yesterday.

It has been an amazing season for O'Brien (48) who is never slow to credit others with success. The likes of Churchill, Winter, Roly Poly and Hydrangea herself are all multiple Group One winners.

"I think it's the best group of horses we've had, a whole team in all different sectors," said O'Brien.

"They've progressed all season, a lot of them are very well bred, by Galileo, and they've improved all year.

"It's a big team effort, there's a lot of links in the chain and everyone works so hard. The lads (Coolmore) put a lot of effort into getting the right people for the team."

With the season drawing to a close, opportunities are running out for O'Brien, but there are chances at Doncaster and Saint-Cloud next weekend before he switches his attentions elsewhere.

"There's the Racing Post Trophy and two races in France next week so hopefully we'll have plenty of runners," O'Brien told ITV Racing.

"Galileo was very special, just as a racehorse and now as a stallion. We do our best, it's very hard to get our ducks in a row all the time, we're very grateful whenever we win."

Part-owner Michael Tabor could not speak highly enough of O'Brien, but also credited the team effort.

"I suppose it is like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients and if you don't have one of them the cake is OK but not quite right. Hopefully we have all the right ingredients and I suppose the proof of the pudding is in the eating," said Tabor.

"It is a fabulous achievement by Aidan. It is incredible. Really, words can't describe how dedicated he is and the whole family. It is a marvellous achievement.

"I think he takes it all in his stride. I don't think there is one particular skill. I think it is his all-round conscientious day-in-day-out relentless attention to detail. I think in all walks of life, attention to detail is important and he certainly typifies that.

"He is not one to go shouting from the rooftops, that is the way he is. I am sure when he gets home at night he sits back in a chair and maybe watches a replay and takes great satisfaction from it, like we all do."

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: "Aidan O'Brien's career has never dipped below extraordinary. His latest achievement in equalling the world record for Group One victories in a year is a new high and on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland I would like to extend my congratulations to him on an outstanding achievement.

"Knowing Aidan, he will be keen to deflect as much praise as possible and will rightly shine a light on his team at Ballydoyle, his owners and the horses in his yard. But this is very much a personal landmark in the career of an exceptional trainer.

"We have seen that in Ireland for a quarter of a century, but with this world record will come due global recognition for a brilliant Irish horseman."

In the day's final race, Lord Glitters came from the clouds to win the Balmoral Handicap for David O'Meara and Danny Tudhope.

When GM Hopkins hit the front close home he looked sure to provide John Gosden with a Champions Day treble. The 3-1 favourite Lord Glitters met trouble in running on entering the final furlong and his chance looked to have gone. However, once switched into the clear he fairly flew home, winning by a neck. Dark Red was third and Accidental Agent fourth.

"It was a little bit nerve wracking to watch," said O'Meara. "He got in all sorts of trouble, no fault of Danny's. He didn't get out until late. We felt we needed to be far side and he had to pull out near side."

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