Aidan O’Brien relentless in quest to break record

Trainer’s trip to Paris vital as he homes in on Frankel’s tally of top-flight victories

Aidan O’Brien is set to be crowned champion trainer for a 19th time in Ireland. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Aidan O’Brien is set to be crowned champion trainer for a 19th time in Ireland. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Aidan O’Brien will be crowned Ireland’s champion trainer for the 19th time when this country’s 2016 turf season winds up at Leopardstown on Saturday but his global reach means O’Brien will be doing anything but putting his feet up.

On Sunday he will be in Paris to try to win both Group One races on a Saint-Cloud card that could prove vital if Bobby Frankel’s world-record tally of 25 top-flight victories in a single year is to be overhauled.

O’Brien has notched 21 on the flat so far in 2016, although many bookmakers who rate him a 5/2 shot to beat Frankel’s tally continue to count Ivanovich Gorbatov’s Triumph Hurdle victory too.

With Bondi Beach due to line up in Tuesday morning’s Melbourne Cup, and a strong team travelling to next week’s Breeders Cup in Santa Anita, O’Brien’s hopes of breaking the record are still alive; however, success in both the Criterium International and Criterium de Saint-Cloud tomorrow may be pivotal.

The Beresford winner, Capri, leads a team of four in the 10-furlong race, which is due off 2.45pm Irish time, while the filly Promise To Be True is O’Brien’s hope in the International at 1.35pm.

O’Brien has won both races on four occasions each, including the seven-furlong International last year with Johannes Vermeer. With Ryan Moore heading to Australia for Bondi Beach, Seamus Heffernan – an International winner 10 years ago on Mount Nelson – rides Promise To Be True.

First ride

The Prix Marcel Boussac runner-up was initially installed an even-money favourite in some lists and is one of two fillies in the nine-runner event, which also includes Andrew Balding’s South Seas, sixth to Churchill in the Dewhurst Stakes.

O’Brien’s 18-year-old son, Donnacha, will be crowned champion apprentice at Leopardstown before having a first ride in France a day later aboard Douglas Macarthur in the mile-and-a-quarter event. Heffernan is on Capri, also an ante-post favourite in a race last won by the trainer with Recital in 2010.

Taj Mahal (Padraig Beggy) and Wings Of Eagles (Colm O’Donoghue) line up for Ballydoyle too, while Rekindling will be the final runner in the career of classic-winning trainer David Wachman, who hands in his licence at the end of this campaign.

There is no sign of O’Brien easing up his remorseless momentum, though, and 2016 has already proved a vintage campaign, however his pursuit of the world Group One record unfolds.

A prizemoney haul of over €5.1 million in Ireland is trumped by over €9 million secured in Britain, where the Irishman has already been confirmed champion trainer for a fifth time.

With his famous Arc 1-2-3 netting €3.8 million in prizemoney alone, and Deauville’s Belmont Derby another lucrative pay-day during the summer, O’Brien-trained horses are approaching €20 million in total prizemoney for 2016, and with the prospect of significantly more to come. With 14 declarations for the final day of a memorable turf campaign in Ireland the Ballydoyle team look likely to visit the winner’s enclosure more than once and Donnacha O’Brien can put a seal on a domestic season before heading to France and on to the US for Friday night’s Breeders Cup ride on Intricately.

The teenager will become the youngest ever Breeders Cup winning jockey, beating his brother, Joseph, if the Moyglare winner lands the $1 million Juvenile Turf Fillies race. In the shorter term he can score for his brother on Jaqen H’ghar at Leopardstown.

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