Aidan O’Brien odds-on to score over 30 Group Ones before end of year
Irish trainer readying Champions Day team for Ascot next Saturday
Ryan Moore riding US Navy Flag wins the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket racecourse on Saturday. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Aidan O’Brien’s Group One dominance in 2017 continues to be so extensive that he has been rated odds-on to ultimately secure more than 30 top-flight victories before the end of this year.
US Navy Flag led home a historic 1-2-3-4 for O’Brien in Saturday’s Dewhurst Stakes in Newmarket – taking the trainer to 24 Group/Grade One wins this season – and a powerful Ballydoyle squad is being readied for this weekend’s QIPCO British Champions Day fixture at Ascot.
It includes the dual-Guineas winners Churchill and Winter who both hold entries in the Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Caravaggio could have another crack at Harry Angel in the Champions Sprint while Seventh Heaven is among the possibles for the Fillies and Mares Stakes.
Before the four Group One races at Ascot, Ireland’s champion trainer could also be in top-class action in Australia in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Johannes Vermeer only just failed to overhaul Gailo Chop in the Ladbrokes Stakes on Saturday and on the back of his impressive first start “down under” he has been cut to 8-1 to make a successful reappearance in the Caulfield Cup.
The mile and a half handicap was pinpointed as a likely target for the colt by Ryan Moore as early as July and Katelyn Mallyon, who rode Johannes Vermeer on Saturday, was upbeat about the Irish horse’s chance in that $3 million (€2.5 million) race too.
“He ran super and really launched late – he’s a really good chance in the Caulfield Cup,” she reported.
Along with the Melbourne Cup, the Caulfield Cup is the first of Australian racing’s three most coveted prizes. O’Brien won the third of them, the Cox Plate, with Adelaide in 2014.
The Ballydoyle trainer is unlikely to have a runner in Sunday’s Prix Royal Oak, the French St Leger, run at Saint-Cloud but one firm is already betting on the basis that the Irishman’s pursuit of Bobby Frankel’s 25 top-flight wins in 2003 is old news.
RaceBets reckons O’Brien is 1-2 to reach 30 before the end of the year and 10-11 to exceed that mark.
“He’s got opportunities at the British Champions meeting whilst he is odds-on to win the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. His juveniles that don’t go there will surely compete in the French equivalent,” spokesman Joseph Burke said on Sunday.
“Throw in Breeders’ Cup weekend at Del Mar, the spring carnival in Australia and the possibility of runners at the Hong Kong International meeting, as well as the Japan Cup, Aidan O’Brien could add another remarkable record to his accolades,” he added.
US Navy Flag could yet have an 11th start of the season in next month’s Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar after becoming the first horse in 35 years to complete the Middle Park-Dewhurst Stakes double.
The colt is a 10-1 shot for next year’s 2,000 Guineas after leading home his stable companions, Mendelssohn, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence at Newmarket.
On the mark
The O’Brien team were on the mark at Naas on Sunday when Dramatically won the juvenile fillies maiden in good style at 4-1.
Donnacha O’Brien had also ridden the daughter of War Front on her Dundalk debut and benefitted from her significant step up as Dramatically proved much too good for Betsey Trotter.
“I was very happy with her first run when she was very green,” the jockey reported. “She wasn’t facing the kickback there when I got back a bit.”
John Oxx saddled Red Stars to a gutsy success in Sunday’s Listed Anjaal Bluebell Stakes which wound up the Naas card. The trainer had been considering running the filly in the November handicap but admitted her second stakes success could be a good note to wind up her racing career.
The Newtown Anner Stud also landed the opener as the 20-1 Nibiru made a winning debut to provide trainer Tony Martin with a first ever juvenile newcomer success.
“It’s a bit different all right but he’s a lovely horse and knew his job,” said Martin who is renowned as a handicap specialist. “We haven’t had the best of years. The team were under a cloud but they’ve been coming right since Galway.”