The Ballydoyle locomotive just keeps rolling along, with O’Brien dominant at Newmarket’s Future Champions meeting.
There’s a number of trainers that will breathe a huge sigh of relief when this Flat season comes to an end. Around £3.5 million ahead in the Trainers’ Championship race, with John Gosden miles back in second, this has been one of Ballydoyle’s most dominant campaigns ever.
On Friday and Saturday Aidan O’Brien added the Juvenile Fillies’ Mile and the Dewhurst Stakes to the plethora of prestigious events captured in recent weeks. In September and October alone, O’Brien and his team have netted the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe; the Sun Chariot Stakes; the Cheveley Park; the Vincent O’Brien National, and the Matron Stakes.
The talent within the yard is exceptional, especially among the fillies. Alice Springs has captured a pair of Group 1s this side of the Irish Sea and one in Ireland. Seventh Heaven has won an Irish and Yorkshire Oaks. Minding has had a sensational campaign, winning no fewer than five Group 1s. And then of course there’s the wonderful Found.
The colts have hardly let the side down. The Gurkha was sensational in France when winning their Guineas. He was then a stunning winner of the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. Sadly, injury was to cut short his season. Order Of St George romped home in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, and was a brilliant third in the Arc. One place ahead of him at Chantilly was Highland Reel, and he’d previously won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Caravaggio had looked a star in the making when taking the Coventry at Royal Ascot, prior to a stunning victory in the Phoenix at the Curragh. Again injury curtailed his campaign, but we eagerly await his return to the track.
With one exciting juvenile sidelined, O’Brien unleashed a ‘supersub’ in the outstanding prospect Churchill. He took the National Stakes in style, and was no less impressive in winning the Dewhurst at the weekend. He looks high-class, and has replaced Caravaggio as favourite for next season’s Guineas. He is also favourite for the Epsom Derby.
Of his latest juvenile sensation, O’Brien said: “Physically he's a very imposing horse. He's probably a more imposing two-year-old than we've ever trained. He has a great mind and relaxes and sleeps. He just does the minimum, which is brilliant. He's a great traveller and the qualities are there in abundance. We've always viewed him as a miler, but that's not to say he won't get further.”
One filly I failed to name earlier is the winner of Friday’s Juvenile Fillies’ Mile, Rhododendron. Yet another by the great stallion Galileo, she looked seriously impressive on Newmarket’s sounder surface. She defeated another Ballydoyle filly in Hydrangea, with the rest of the field out of sight. Installed as 1000 Guineas favourite, she looks sure to take high order next spring.
O’Brien appeared pleased with both, when interviewed after the victory he said: “We thought she would like to go up to a mile, which she did. They're two very high-class fillies and we knew they were progressing. Both are in a good place at the moment, so it (Breeders' Cup) is an option if the lads want to do that. She (Rhododendron) is out of Halfway To Heaven and she got a mile and a quarter well and is by Galileo so she does have options. Looking at that, I'd say she would have no problems starting off in a Guineas.”
With O’Brien dominating the juvenile scene, there’s every chance that next year will follow a similar pattern to this. A successful British Champions Day at Ascot next Saturday could see O’Brien become the first trainer to smash through the £7m barrier, just two months after he became the first to hit £6m. And he’s once again within touching distance of Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 top-level victories in a calendar year.