O'Brien leads way
Success on both sides of the pond
Aidan O'Brien has been having a marvellous season, even by his own high standards, and he seems destined to be the champion flat trainer in both Britain and Ireland this year, a rare achievement for an Irish handler.
Only three Irish-based trainers have won the British championship - Paddy Prendergast in 1963, '64 and '65; Vincent O'Brien in 1966 and 1977, and Aidan himself who has done it four times so far, 2001, '02, '07 and '08. He is certain to make it number five this year.
The British championship is based on prize money won during the calendar year and he has helped himself to £5.72 million sterling over there from his 22 winners. He is more than £3.5 million ahead of John Gosden and Richard Hannon.
O'Brien continued on his merry way at the York Ebor Festival last week. He won the Great Voltigeur Stakes, Group 2 worth £160,000, with Idaho (5/6), under Seamie Heffernan, and took second as well with Houses of Parliament (6/1) under Jamie Spencer. He was second with Highland Reel (6/1) in the million pound Juddmonte International Stakes.
On Thursday he farmed the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks worth £365k; he won with Seventh Heaven (10/3), had second with Found (2/1f) and also had fourth with Pretty Perfect. He also got second with Roly Poly in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes.
On the home scene, O'Brien is well ahead on the number of winners, but Dermot Weld is quite close in the money stakes thanks to the exploits of his Derby winner, Harzand.
Aidan's 86 winners have earned €1.91m, with €3m total prize money; Weld's 60 wins netted €1.755m (€2.1m including place money); Jim Bolger, another Wexford stalwart, is third on €680,000 from his 45 wins (€1.28m in total).
The Ballydoyle maestro pulled off another three-timer at the Curragh on Sunday with jockey Seamie Heffernan, including Churchill in the €130,000 Group 2 Futurity Stakes to put him firmly into next year's 2000 Guineas picture; Rhododendron beat stablemate Hydrangea in the Group 2 €115,000 Debutante Stakes, and he had another 1-2 in the maiden with Big Ben and Tree of Knowledge.
Jamie Codd, the reigning point-to-point champion jockey, has been riding out of his skin on the track this summer, forging wins from limited opportunities, often at good prices.
He scored a double on Saturday in the final two races of the Killarney Festival, leaving short priced Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins favourites in his wake.
In the bumper he romped clear on Go Another One (5/2) for John McConnell from Co. Meath, and it was a similar story in the €13,000 Qualified Riders' race on The Winkler (5/1) for Eoin Doyle from Mooncoin.
In England last week the Wexford contingent had a few nice wins.
On Thursday, Tom O'Brien, Aidan's nephew from Adamstown, won the £22,000 featured hurdle at Newton Abbott on Golden Doyen (6/1) for Philip Hobbs, while Daryl Jacob won the following novice chase on Mrsrobin (9/2) for Emma Lavelle.
Jacob followed up on Sunday to win the featured £20,000 handicap chase at Worcester on Croco Bay (6/1) for Ben Case.
There were also wins for Pat McDonald on Stanghow (10/1) at Thirsk; Pat Dobbs went to Kempton for one ride and duly won on Catchment (8/1), and Jimmy Quinn won on Secretfact (9/2) at Chepstow.
I missed out on a significant result last week for Wexford connections and I want to put it on the record.
In the Chia Bia handicap hurdle at Tramore on Friday, August 12, the winner was War of the Penneys, trained in Rathgarogue by Don Cashman for his partner, Talitha Doran, and ridden by young Glynn seven pound claimer, Conor Walsh.
Although he has had some success on the point-to-point circuit, this was Don's first winner on the track, and it was not entirely unexpected - the horse was backed in from a morning price of 20/1 to 9/1 at the start. He took up the running at the last and kept on well on the run to the line.
Cashman, who only took out his track licence a couple of months ago, was delighted with this initial success.
He and Talitha bred the bay gelding by Presenting at their own Steeple Stud in Rathgarogue and they are hopeful of more success.
This week's Irish fixtures: Tuesday, August 23, Ballinrobe; Wednesday and Thursday, August 24 and 25, Bellewstown; Thursday, August 25, Tipperary; Friday, August 26, Down Royal; Saturday, August 27, Navan; Sunday, August 28, Curragh and Cork; Monday, August 29, Downpatrick and Roscommon.