Tipperary-based horse trainer Aidan O'Brien equals world record

Eamonn Wynne

Reporter:

Eamonn Wynne

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ewynne@nationalist.ie

Aidan O'Brien

Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O'Brien has equalled the world record for the number of Group and Grade One winners trained on the flat in a calendar year.

Aidan O’Brien has equalled the world record for the number of Group and Grade 1 winners trained on the Flat in a calendar year.

Ireland’s champion trainer won his 25th Group 1 in 2017 when Hydrangea won the Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot, equalling the record set by Bobby Frankel in 2003.

O’Brien, whose stables are based at Ballydoyle, near Rosegreen in West Tipperary, got his season off to the perfect start with Churchill and Winter completing Newmarket and Curragh Guineas doubles.

At Epsom Highland Reel won the Coronation Cup while Wings Of Eagles was the first leg of a Ballydoyle Derby double, with Capri winning out in a thrilling finish to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at The Curragh.

Royal Ascot saw a trio of Group 1 wins including Winter in the Coronation Stakes, and that filly made it four wins at the top level by July when landing the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

Another brilliant filly, Roly Poly, more than contributed her fair share, landing three Group 1s in remarkably game fashion beginning with the Falmouth Stakes in July, then the Prix Rothchild in Chantilly before returning to Newmarket in October to take the Sun Chariot Stakes.

Winning 25 Group 1s in one season requires an exceptional team and O’Brien had winners across all the categories – two-year-olds, three year-olds, older horses, colts and fillies. One of those fillies, Happily, won two Group 1s, including when beating the colts at Chantilly on Arc day in the Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere.

By then the world record looked more than possible and when US Navy Flag led home an incredible O’Brien 1-2-3-4 in the Darley Dewhurst at Newmarket last Saturday, and made it 24 top level winners for the season, it was only a matter of time, with strong Ballydoyle chances in Group 1s all over the world, that O’Brien would make history.

One week later, Hydrangea took the Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot, helping Aidan O’Brien equal the world record.

The incredible achievement has been hailed by Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh, who said “Aidan O’Brien’s career has never dipped below extraordinary. His latest achievement in equalling the world record for Group 1 victories in a year is a new high and on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland I extend my congratulations to him on an outstanding achievement".

It represents another milestone for the Ballydoyle trainer, who has been Irish Champion Flat trainer in terms of prize money won in every season since 1999.