Friday 18 October 2019

O'Brien crowned king of Royal Ascot again

Queen Elizabeth II presents the Leading Trainers Trophy to Aidan O'Brien on day 5 of Royal Ascot. Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty
Queen Elizabeth II presents the Leading Trainers Trophy to Aidan O'Brien on day 5 of Royal Ascot. Photo: Charlie Crowhurst/Getty

Keith Hamer

Aidan O'Brien celebrated winning a seventh Qipco Leading Trainer Award at Royal Ascot after saddling a personal best of seven winners. For the second year in succession the master of Ballydoyle topped the final standings after surpassing the six he had back in 2008.

Although ending up as the leading trainer, O'Brien started the meeting slowly, with the victory of Caravaggio in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday his only success in the first two days. A double on Thursday, thanks to wins by Even Song in the Ribblesdale Stakes and Order Of St George in the Gold Cup, was followed up by another brace on Friday after victories from Brave Anna in the Albany Stakes and Sword Fighter in the Queen's Vase.

His position as the meeting's leading trainer once more was confirmed by saddling his third double in as many days yesterday, courtesy of Churchill in the Chesham Stakes and Sir Isaac Newton in the Wolferton Handicap.

"A lot of people put in a lot of hard work and I'm delighted for all them," O'Brien said. "Sometimes everything goes well and sometimes it goes completely wrong, but if you win some it's great.

"We had some hard-luck stories this week, but that's racing. Race after race you have to move on."

There was also a familiar outcome to the winner of the top jockey prize after Ryan Moore clinched the honours for the sixth time.

Despite trailing Frankie Dettori by one going into the final day the three-times champion jockey finished top of the table after registering a final-day treble. Having steered both the O'Brien-trained winners to victory, Moore completed his haul when partnering the Henry Candy-trained Twilight Son to glory in the feature Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

"It's great to win it again. The winner that stood out was probably the Gold Cup one, said Moore."

Commissioned, meanwhile, rounded off an incredible week for another jockey, Adam Kirby, with victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.

The rider's girlfriend gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday morning, just hours before Kirby claimed Group One glory aboard Profitable in the King's Stand Stakes.

There was more top-level success for Kirby the following day aboard My Dream Boat in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and he struck gold for a third time in the concluding race of the meeting.

Commissioned was a 12-1 chance having been off the track since running in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March. It was his first Flat race in almost 1000 days.

Making his first start for Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Gordon Elliott having been bought out of John Ferguson's yard for £65,000, the six-year-old was produced to challenge in the straight and got up to beat 40-1 shot Cayirli by a length and three-quarters.

Clondaw Warrior, the 7-2 joint-favourite, got rolling late but had to make do with minor honours in third. An emotional Kirby said: "It's unbelievable - it's been a great week.

"It's a waste of time me telling you how it feels as I don't know yet. Thanks to the owners for putting me on this horse, they were pretty confident, and credit to Gordon Elliott."

Commissioned was carrying the colours of the Nick Bradley Racing Nineteen Partnership for the first time. Elliott is currently holidaying in Barbados. "We bought him at the Cheltenham Sale from the Bloomfields dispersal," Bradley said. "Gordon has had a bit of success over the sticks, so I think he deserves the summer off!

"He gave us lots of confidence. The horse went for a 17-horse gallop at Punchestown last week and he said he won with his ears pricked, so we were pretty hopeful, but it's Royal Ascot so you never know.

"We got him to run in the Ascot Stakes but as it was wet at the start of the week, we waited for this."

Finally, trainer Sir Michael Stoute was honoured to join his friend, the late Sir Henry Cecil, on equalling his record 75 winners at Royal Ascot as the Queen's Dartmouth won a dramatic race for the Hardwicke Stakes.

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