Aiden O’Brien’s achievement in winning both the Qipco 2000 Guineas and the 1000 Guineas this weekend will be measured in many ways. For some, the highlight will be winning both in the same season; for others that he proved so adept at getting an outside chance to perform much better than anyone expected. Horses like At First Sight, runner up at 100/1 in the Derby in 2010.
Certainly in yesterday’s fillies race, the obvious assumption was that Homecoming Queen was there to set a fast pace for stablemate Maybe. And nobody would have changed their mind about that when Ryan Moore pinged her out of the stalls and set off like greased lightning. As the 25/1 shot stretched clear to a 9 length success, in a time two seconds faster than Camelot posted 24 hours earlier, it was apparent to everyone that here was a horse showing far more ability than in the 13 races she had as a 2 year old and earlier this season.
Some will see this weekend’s events as restoring the natural order of things, with the top races going to one of the stables with the bid money behind it. It was four years and 53 runners in the English Classics, with at least one runner in every renewal of both Guineas, the Derby, The Oaks and the St Leger, since Henrythenavigator came home a nose in front of New Approach in the 2008 200 Guineas.
Many will have missed the measure of O’Brien’s achievement when it’s placed alongside that of the other trainers whose horses lined up alongside Camelot and Power, the other horse in the 2000 Guineas that O’Brien trains. Simply, the other 13 trainers have a collective experience of over 300 years at their job. O’Brien has 19 years. Between them, those 13 have trained 15 Classic winners, an average of one for every 20 years of work. On his own, O’Brien has now trained 16, an average of one every 14 months.