Aidan O’Brien odds-on to break Group One world record on Saturday
Saxon Warrior favourite to give O’Brien a 26th Group One winner of the season
If O’Brien fails to secure the world record at Doncaster, he will have two more chances at Saint-Cloud where he has won both of the big races four times each in the past. Photograph: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images
Aidan O’Brien is long odds-on to set a new world for Group One victories in a calendar year with three top-flight races up for grabs in England and France this weekend.
Last Saturday the Irish trainer levelled with the legendary late American Bobby Frankel when Hydrangea provided him with a 25th Group One - racing’s highest standard races - at Ascot on ‘British Champions Day.’
O’Brien has four runners in Britain’s final Group One of the year, Doncaster’s Racing Post Trophy, on Saturday including the favourite Saxon Warrior. The race is due off at 3.25pm.
His focus will then switch to Paris on Sunday where France’s final two Group Ones of 2017 take place at Saint-Cloud.
O’Brien also has four starters for the Criterium de Saint-Cloud, due off at 1.35pm Irish-time, while Threeandfourpence will be his sole runner in the other €250,000 two-year old highlight, the Criterium International, at 2.45pm.
With over a dozen potential runners at next weekend’s Breeders Cup meeting in California, many bookmakers have stopped betting on O’Brien eventually setting a new training landmark in 2017 although he is 1-6 to do it this weekend.
“With four runners at Doncaster he is 4-6 to win that race. And he’s 4-9 to win the first of the Group Ones in France on Sunday. His one runner in the International is 4-1,” said a spokesman for the RaceBets firm.
O’Brien is in pursuit of an eighth success in the Racing Post Trophy, a race he has won in the past with the subsequent dual-Derby winners, High Chaparral and Camelot.
Saxon Warrior is already favourite for the 2018 Epsom Derby after winning his two starts to date. The Japanese bred colt will be ridden by Ryan Moore who’s chasing his first win in the race.
Seamus Heffernan on the apparent Ballydoyle second-string, The Pentagon, has never won the race before either.
In contrast however Italian rider Andrea Atzeni has won the Racing Post Trophy for the last four years and will be on board Chilean on Saturday.
That colt is a general 12-1 shot but it is another Irish trained hope, Verbal Dexterity, that many bookmakers rate as the most likely to foil O’Brien’s record quest, at least for the time-being.
The National Stakes winner is trained by O’Brien’s old mentor Jim Bolger who had to withdraw Verbal Dexterity just before the Dewhurst Stakes earlier this month.
“He couldn’t run in the Dewhurst because his scope wasn’t 100 per cent but he’s ready again now. The ground looks like being good so there’s no problems on that score. Hopefully he’ll win again,” Bolger reported.
If O’Brien fails to secure the world record at Doncaster, he will have two more chances at Saint-Cloud where he has won both of the big races four times each in the past.
Moore has opted to ride Delano Roosevelt in the mile and a quarter contest in which the unbeaten French hope Luminate could prove to be the biggest obstacle to the Irish team.