If you look up the word ‘prolific’ in the dictionary, you might just see a picture of Aidan O’Brien. The Ballydoyle trainer has won pretty much everything there is to win in flat racing on both sides of the Irish Sea, and his record in the ‘classics’ of Ireland is simply unrivalled.
He will head into the revised 2020 campaign with ambitions of further glory, and he will have numerous chances to achieve just that as the curtain is raised on the new season on Monday, June 8.
It won’t be long until the first majors come round, with Curragh hosting the Guineas weekender on June 12-13, and two weeks after that the same venue will welcome the Irish Derby. O’Brien is well placed for success too, with his raider Armory priced at 7/2 in the Irish 1,000 Guineas betting odds with Betway. The Futurity Stakes winner enjoyed a fine two-year-old campaign, and he can strike a blow for the Coolmore Stud with victory in the June 12 classic.
Of course, it is the Irish Derby that really tends to capture the imagination of O’Brien. He is a 13-time winner of the race – nobody has trained more Derby champions than the 50-year-old – and he heads to Curragh on the back of an astonishing triumph in the 1m 4f renewal 12 months ago.
Most pundits expected Anthony van Dyck, another O’Brien charge, to romp home at around the even money mark, but the offspring of Galileo was humbled by Sovereign, a 33/1 outsider who was the trainer’s third or fourth string in the race.
Aided by a fine ride from Padraig Beggy, the Coolmore colt blasted into the lead early on and never looked like relinquishing his stranglehold, leaving Anthony van Dyck trailing in his wake in a six-length victory.
Whilst wholly unexpected, it was confirmation once more that Aidan O’Brien is the ultimate Irish Derby trainer, and in 2020 he has a cavalcade of contenders for a magnificent fourteenth triumph in the race.
Mogul Has the Power
Despite the halving of the Irish Derby prize money as per the Irish Mirror, O’Brien’s connections will be playing a strong hand at Curragh. Of the entries, it is perhaps Mogul who catches the eye most prominently. A winner at the course last season in the EBF Maiden, the Coolmore two-year-old romped home in the KPMG Champions Juvenile Stakes at Leopardstown in September as if to prove his burgeoning reputation.
Of course, O’Brien’s whole entourage will be well-fancied given his history in the race, and Innisfree will be another contender at around the 5/1 mark that will be supported. The bay colt finished around four lengths clear of Mogul at Newcastle in November, and he too is a Class 1 champion at Curragh having landed the Beresford Stakes in September. The suspicion is that he will prefer softer ground, however, so keep an eye on the forecast to see if he can thrive.
Royal Dornoch won a quality renewal at Newmarket from Kameko in September, while Vatican City showed a real turn of pace in victory at Dundalk in October.
Whichever of his horses you fancy, it is clear that Aidan O’Brien is well placed to strike gold once more at the Irish Derby.