“You just hope and do your best and try to get a good result”

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Aidan O’Brien created history on Saturday by becoming the most successful trainer in the history in the Investec Derby as Serpentine gave the master of Ballydoyle an eighth win in Britain’s premier Classic.

With Ballydoyle often criticised when their perceived outsider wins a big race, O’Brien explained that all the Coolmore partners-owned horses are in a big race on merit:

“We discuss each horse and try and give every horse the best chance in the race and we ride them all accordingly.”

Speaking of the riding tactics for last Saturday’s race, the Wexford-native said:

“Emmet gave him a brilliant ride. He judged the pace really well. He was a horse who was going to get every yard of the mile and a half. Emmet was happy to go the front on his horse with his horse having won from the front the last day and William (Buick, third Amhrán Na Bhfiann) was happy to also go forward if he was able. It was exactly the way it was. Wayne Lordan rode Serpentine the last day and he won it very impressively. He ran through to the line over a mile and a quarter at The Curragh and to do that, you have to be very good and have class and that is what he did really.”

He admitted that he watched the Investec Derby at home, accompanied by his wife, Annemarie, daughters Sarah and Ana, and his youngest son, Donnacha, who according to the winning trainer “… mentioned at around five furlongs out that he thought Emmet would win here. He was very comfortable and there was no-one going to challenge him and he wasn’t going to stop.”

Despite the continued success the multiple Classic-winning handler has experienced over the last two decades, Aidan O’Brien and his family continue to enjoy and appreciate the big days:

“We are so delighted. We are in a very privileged position to have such unbelievable horses and such unbelievably well-bred horses,” he says, before continuing “we are working with special people. It is a position very few people will ever get into. The horses have such incredible pedigrees, top and bottom. There are so many special people involved and everyone puts their heart and soul into it day in, day out. Everyone loves what they do and we really appreciate every opportunity that we get and how grateful we are to everyone for what they do. It is just very special for us to be part of such a special team of people.”

He emphasized the importance of the team effort at Ballydoyle, where everyone plays a role in the success of the horses:

“Every race and all those big races, it is incredibly satisfying when they do win for everybody. There are so many links in the chain from when the mare is covered and then conceived. There are so many people involved all the way up to the present time. We have so many special people here in the finishing stage. You never really expect anything, and you just hope and do your best and try to get a good result.”

Discussing having a race run at the correct pace to suit his horses, O’Brien explains:

“If it is a mile and a half race, we try and have it run at a mile and a half pace and whatever. We can then go forward from that and make a plan and that is always the best outcome for everybody.”

Turning to the surprise winner of the Investec Derby at 25/1, Aidan O’Brien comments:

“We always thought he would stay very well. He would have no problem getting the Leger trip. He is by Galileo and from a Dylan Thomas family. I would imagine he would have no problem getting the trip if that is what the lads decide to do. He stays very well. I don’t think he would have a problem with soft ground in the autumn in an Arc. This horse has a little bit of knee action and on his pedigree, he would handle slower ground in something like an Arc.”

When asked if he was disappointed at not being present for his history-making victory on Epsom Downs, O’Brien admits:

“Obviously, we would love to be there, but we are lucky to be racing. Everyone is communicating well. We had a good meeting before the racing. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith are in Barbados along with Sue and John Magnier in Ireland. Everyone is on the call and with Zoom it is easy for us to chat. We would love to be there …  but it is something we can’t do …”

One person who was present at Epsom on Saturday was Paul Smith, son of part-owner Derrick Smith. Paul Smith said of Serpentine:

“We always knew Serpentine would stay, and that he would bowl along in front, and if they came to catch him he wouldn’t fall into a hole – we knew that. He quickened away well and put it to bed quite nicely, didn’t he? Going round Tattenham Corner, I thought it would take a very good horse to peg him back.”

Smith noted the amazing achievement of the Coolmore partners’ trainer, stating:

“It’s incredible (that Aidan O’Brien has now recorded eight Investec Derby wins). Aidan really is a genius – it’s a word that has been used before, but we know he is. He gets his horses so right and works with the pedigrees so well. Aidan is just so, so good at getting these horses ready for big races.”

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