Monday 16 September 2019

O'Brien out on his own after Saxon delivers

Saxon Warrior (right) ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Racing Post Trophy Stakes during Racing Post Trophy day at Doncaster. Photo: Clint Hughes/PA
Saxon Warrior (right) ridden by Ryan Moore wins the Racing Post Trophy Stakes during Racing Post Trophy day at Doncaster. Photo: Clint Hughes/PA

Nick Robson

It has been on the cards for some time, but Saxon Warrior's victory in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster finally provided Aidan O'Brien with a unique slice of racing history.

The Ballydoyle handler notched his 26th Group One win of the year on Town Moor, breaking the record set by legendary American trainer Bobby Frankel back in 2003. While there is no doubt he is in a privileged position training for the powerful Coolmore team, his skill lies in extracting every drop of potential in virtually all of his inmates.

O'Brien's modesty is a running joke in racing circles but at Doncaster there was no getting away from it, he would have to take all the plaudits, no matter how hard he tried to share the limelight.

"It's incredible. I'm so delighted for everyone, I'm thrilled," said O'Brien. "You just don't expect it, all you can do is your best. I feel so proud for everyone. It's a privilege to be working with such special people. We're in a very lucky position and we're a small link in a big chain.

"It is so hard to win Group Ones that I never expect it. We've just got a great team, that's at the heart of it.

"We've been in Ballydoyle 20 years now and each year some of the staff are retiring, but not before they are passing on all that experience. The lads (Coolmore triumvirate John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor) do a great job breeding and buying the horses and it is our job not to damage them.

"I'm very pleased it's happened today as even though there's other Group Ones, there's a chance we might not win another. It's been a funny year really. A lot of horses have progressed and progressed. It was unusual. A lot of very well-bred horses just got better and better.

"We don't get much time to enjoy it through the season, we are always looking ahead, but when it's all over we'll sit back and look at what we could have done better."

A big cog in the Ballydoyle wheel is Ryan Moore, who divides his time between Britain and Ireland to team up with O'Brien's bluebloods.

"Aidan will be breaking records for a long time yet," said Moore. "I'm very lucky, I've worked with the best, but there's no doubt Aidan is extraordinary. He handles everything very well and from my point of view he makes things very easy. "He's been at the top for 20 years so I can't say anything new about him, it's just a pleasure to ride for him."

When plaudits are passed around like confetti, there is a tendency to feel they can be quite hollow. That is not the case with O'Brien as, while he is not one for the limelight, he is never going to be able to escape it due to his incredible skill at training a racehorse.

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