Monday 18 December 2017

A record in sight

O’Brien seeking 25 top grade wins

Weekly news by Pegasus

Aidan O'Brien in conversation with jockey Ryan Moore after winning the Irish St. Leger last month
Aidan O'Brien in conversation with jockey Ryan Moore after winning the Irish St. Leger last month

Aidan O'Brien kept up his assault on the big races at the weekend with four Group 1 successes in two days at Newmarket on Saturday and Chantilly on Sunday bringing his tally for the year to 22, and he is now homing in on the world record 25 top grade wins in a season set by American legend, the late Bobby Frankel, in 2003.

At Newmarket, O'Brien had a treble including a Group 1 double in two of the season's most important two-year-old races, indicating that he will be a major force in the classics again next year.

The £213,000 Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes for fillies was won impressively by Ryan Moore on Clemmie (15/8f), and the sister of Churchill has been installed as favourite for next year's 1,000 Guineas.

Half an hour later it was the turn of the colts in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, and O'Brien registered a 1-2 with US Navy Flag (10/1) under Seamie Heffernan winning by half a length from stablemate, Fleet Review (25/1), ridden by Donnacha O'Brien.

Aidan's imposing Sioux Nation (11/2) under Ryan Moore was sixth less than four lengths back and this one should certainly go into the notebook for next year as well.

He completed the treble in the relatively modest £8,000 fillies' stakes with Bye Bye Baby (11/10f) making all under Ryan Moore.

O'Brien scored an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the €5 million Prix De L'arc De Triomphe last year and he sent out four on Sunday at Chantilly to try to retain the title. However, winner was horse of the year, Enable, which romped home like a worthy favourite, with Order of St. George in fourth being best of the Coolmore runners.

O'Brien got ample compensation with two more Group 1 winners. Happily (6/5f) took the €350,000 mile race for two-year-olds under Ryan Moore, and Rhododendron (7/1) took the €400,000 Prix De L'Opera under Seamie Heffernan, just a head in front of more fancied stablemate, Hydrangea (11/2), with Ryan Moore steering.

With lots of chances still to come, Aidan must be short odds now to surpass Frankel's world record and add yet another accolade to his amazing career.

O'Brien was out of luck with some fancied runners at the big meeting at Newmarket on Friday, Sir John Lavery (second), Coat of Arms (third) and Butterscotch all coming up short under Ryan Moore, but O'Brien was not taking the eye off the ball at home and he had a double on the all-weather at Dundalk, including the €63,000 Group 3 Koffy Diamond Stakes.

The big one went to Donnacha O'Brien on War Decree (7/2) from Billy Lee on Absolute Blast (8/1) and Sir Michael Stoute's English raider, Abingdon (7/4f), under Pat Smullen.

Earlier, Seamie Heffernan had easily won the two-year-old fillies' maiden for O'Brien on I Can Fly (3/1).

O'Brien had begun his week with a double at a pretty low-key Tipperary on Tuesday, with Saracen Knight (4/5) under Seamie Heffernan in a two-years-old maiden, and Longing (evens) under son, Donnacha, in the three-years-old fillies' maiden.

Wexford People

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