User Menu

Aidan O’Brien odds-on to reach 30 Group One winners in 2017

Roly Poly is set to tackle Saturday’s Sun Chariot at Newmarket as second favourite

Aidan O’Brien: the trainer is rapidly closing in on Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

The next step on Aidan O’Brien’s apparently remorseless progress towards a new Group One world record could come at Newmarket on Saturday with Roly Poly set to line up in the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes.

Roly Poly has already twice contributed at the top level to what is emerging as O’Brien’s most successful season ever and she was immediately installed a 5-2 second favourite behind Persuasive for Saturday’s mile highlight. Her stable companion Alluringly is also still in the Sun Chariot mix.

Ireland’s champion trainer is only three shy of Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade One victories in a calendar year after top-flight doubles at both Newmarket and Chantilly over the weekend.

He is generally 1-8 to finally break a record he has come tantalisingly close to on a number of occasions in the past. However, such is the form the Ballydoyle string are in, one firm reckon O’Brien is odds-on to reach 30 Group One successes before the end of the year.

RaceBets make it 4-6 about O’Brien setting a spectacular new benchmark in 2017 and the international element could prove crucial to such calculations as the Irishman enters the final two months of campaigning.

Star names such as Winter and Highland Reel are in contention to lead a strong Ballydoyle team to next month’s Breeders Cup action in Del Mar while two of their stable companions, Taj Mahal and Johannes Vermeer, are already in Australia with the Cox Plate (October 28th) and the Caulfield Cup (October 21st ) respectively in their sights.

Strong team

Before that Ballydoyle’s international bandwagon could take in Keeneland this Saturday night where officials are keeping fingers crossed that Lancaster Bomber could try to follow in the hoof-prints of Aussie Rules (2006) and Landseer (2002) in the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile.

Rain Goddess is also still in calculations for the $400,000 Grade One First Lady Stakes on the same Keeneland card.

Closer to home the Sun Chariot will be the first of 13 top-flight races still to be run in Europe this year although single options in Germany and Italy respectively are unlikely to be on O’Brien’s radar.

However next week’s Fillies Mile and Dewhurst Stakes both fell to him a year ago with Rhododendron and Churchill and his particularly strong team of juvenile fillies could see him strike again at Newmarket.

There are four Group Ones up for grabs on Champions Day at Ascot later in the month where star names such as Caravaggio and Order Of St George are set to be in the mix.

The Derby favourite Saxon Warrior is in contention for the final Group One of the British season, the Racing Post Trophy, before the juvenile focus then switches to France and two further Group Ones up for grabs there.

More modest ambitions will be entertained at Dundalk on Tuesday evening but O’Brien has eight declarations including the JP McManus-owned Clear Skies in a maiden.

As a sister to the Derby winner and sire Motivator any sort of victory will add to Clear Skies’ value and her 87 rating would ordinarily look enough for this task. The worry though is a wide 14 of 14 draw.

With a lead of four (77-73) Colin Keane is odds-on to dethrone Pat Smullen as champion jockey and both have eight rides at Dundalk. Weightfordave could end the night on a good note for the young pretender.