Tipperary-based horse trainer Aidan O'Brien sets new world record

Eamonn Wynne

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Eamonn Wynne

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ewynne@nationalist.ie

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O'Brien has set a new world record for the number of Group and Grade One winners trained on the Flat in a calendar year.

Aidan O’Brien has had more cause for celebration after he set a new 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 26th Group 1 in 2017 when Saxon Warrior landed the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday, as he finally beat the record set by the late American trainer Bobby Frankel in 2003.

“It looked for some weeks like Aidan would create a new world record number of Group 1s in a calendar year and, now that he has, we shouldn’t allow what we thought was inevitable distract from the achievement: this is an incredible, historic feat and one worthy of great celebration,” said Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh.

“In posting a tally never before realised in the international world of Flat racing, he has also captured the imagination of the sporting public at large. Knowing his dedication and the talented team of people and horses he has assembled, I would expect Aidan could add even more Group and Grade 1 success to his tally with the number of top level races left to compete for around the world this year.”

Having set a new standard of 26 Group and Grade 1 victories, Aidan O’Brien now heads into the autumn and winter with many more opportunities to further add to his remarkable top-level tally.

Today, Sunday at the French racecourse, Saint-Cloud, the Tipperary-based trainer, whose stables are at Ballydoyle, near Rosegreen, is responsible for four of the seven runners in the Group 1 Criterium De Saint-Cloud and has one runner in the Criterium International.

O’Brien’s season got 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 26 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 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 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.

Hydrangea took the Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot, helping Aidan O’Brien equal the world record, and then a new world record was set when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, making it 26 Group and Grade 1 winners trained on the Flat in a calendar year

Aidan O'Brien has been Irish Champion Flat trainer in terms of prizemoney won in every season since 1999.