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Friday 27 April 2018

The O'Brien juggernaut rolls on

Pegasus

Aidan O'Brien completed the British and Irish classics season with his fifth win in the Doncaster St. Leger on Saturday when Capri (3/1f) confirmed his Irish derby success to give Ryan Moore his first win in the oldest classic in the book.

O'Brien collected eight of the ten classics in Ireland and Britain this season, missing out only on both Oaks.

And just to show that he does not only win with short-priced 'sure things', he added the Group 2 Champagne Stakes for two-year-olds on Saturday with outsider Seahenge (8/1), under his son, Donnacha, and on Friday he took the Fillies' Group 3 Sceptre Stakes with Music Box under Ryan Moore (also 8/1).

Capri had not run for 77 days since his Irish Derby victory and Ryan Moore had not sat on him this year, but the two combined to produce a gritty staying performance in an above average Leger.

There are no adequate superlatives left to describe O'Brien's remarkable 20-year career as the Coolmore trainer at Ballydoyle; he is supplied with the ammunition but the level of consistent success he coaxes out of his blue blooded charges has been extraordinary.

This was his 74th Classic win - 39 in Ireland, 29 in Britain and six in France; he is the first trainer in the world to have over 300 Group 1 wins, and he has won in excess of £170,000 million in career earnings.

Through all of this, he has remained modest and unassuming and is adept at diverting credit to all and sundry for his unprecedented success.

And he is still young in racing terms - he will be 48 next month.

Born in Killegney, Poulpeasty, to Denis and Stella, on October 16, 1969, Aidan, his wife, Ann Marie, and their four children are all steeped in every aspect of horses - a unique equestrian family.

It is too easy to be blasé and to take what he does for granted, but we should all take pride in this model Wexford man's amazing achievements.

Irish racing focused almost exclusively on Listowel last week and Wexford success was limited.

On Monday, the Bolgers were heavily involved with the winner of the featured €50,000 nursery handicap - Warm the Voice (7/4f), was bred by Jim, owned by wife, Jackie, ridden by son-in-law, Kevin Manning, and trained by Brendan Duke who looks after quite a few Bolger horses.

J.J. Slevin very nearly won the big one on Tuesday, the €50,000 Liam Healy Memorial Lartigue Handicap Hurdle, on Mischievious Max (8/1) for first cousin, Joseph O'Brien. Slight mistakes when under pressure at the end were costly and they lost out by just a neck to Michael Mulvany's On The Go Again (7/2f).

Seán Flanagan survived a near fall at the last in the Kevin McManus Beginners' Chase on Thursday; he gathered up Noel Meade's Une Lavandiere (11/4jf) on the run-in to prevail by half a length, adding to his opening day winner last Sunday.

Trainer Meade said he was delighted for owner Pat O'Loughlin. 'He loves this place … He's really enjoyed that win with all his friends here from Wexford.'

The Listowel Festival highlight, the €175,000 Kerry National, was won by amateur rider Lisa O'Neill on seven-year-old Potters Point, for Gordon Elliot and Gigginstown House Stud.

Three years ago the horse was runner-up in his four-year-old point-to-point maiden at Monksgrange, Rathnure, under Barry O'Neill for Colin Bowe, before being sold at the Brightwells Cheltenham sale for £260,000.

Wexford People