Tag Archives: Aidan O’Brien

The Melbourne Cup (G1)

Recommendation: Johannes Vermeer 11/1 win

Johannes Vermeer with Minding following at Naas in May

Johannes Vermeer made his seasonal debut at Naas this year running fourth to the wonderful Minding. Injury forced her retirement after winning the G2 Mooresbridge Stakes. Alas we didn’t see her again but we have the prospect of Johannes Vermeer winning the Melbourne Cup, to a great deal of people the most coveted of all races in the world.

Johannes Vermeer was a G1 winner as a two-year old when he took the Criterium International at Saint Cloud in France in November 2015.  Injury meant his three-year old season was curtailed to just one run when at the end of the year in October he ran third in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket.

Aidan O’Brien kept him for a four-year old campaign and that decision has been rewarded with a trip down under for the Melbourne Cup. He’s changed ownership for this transferring to the Williams family as has US Army Ranger who is now under the tutelage of son Joseph O’Brien. Jospeh’s other runner Rekindling likewise transferred offers most to fear here. There’s a lot to like about him and his fourth in the St Leger behind Capri is outstanding form coming into this race.

Back to Johannes Vermeer, two G1 outings followed the Nass run. The Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. He never threatened but he wasn’t beaten that far going down less than 5 L’s on both occasions.

In early July he was then dropped in class for a confidence booster and duly obliged when beating a very good horse in Success Days in the G3 International Stakes on Irish Derby day.

In early August he was then beaten a 1/2 L by stable companion Spanish Steps in the G3 Ballyroan Stakes. The loss wasn’t unexpected judging by the betting that night and while Spanish Steps might have had his day in the sun you can quite conceivably see that a plan was hatched for Johannes Vermeer to go to Melbourne after that performance.

In mid October he made his Australian debut in the G1 Caulfield Stakes where he was an unconsidered outsider going off at 30/1. He ran a cracker to just be denied a head by Galio Chop.

A week later he went off favourite for the much bigger Caulfield Cup when in an interrupted run when boxed in on the rail he couldn’t get out in time.  He finished third. This was a case of full of horse with nowhere to go. He ate what was left of the ground but the post came too soon. Next time.

Next time comes now. He’s not the horse he led in the picture, none are, if she’d had a season we wouldn’t talk of Enable we ‘d have only talked of Minding.

It’s good to remember a day in May, now it’s November. A day for Johannes Vermeer to have a day in the southern hemisphere sun.

Minding enters the ring for the Mooresbridge Stakes on her comeback at Naas




Breeder Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1)


Happily 4/1 win

Happily & September, Reverse Forecast

Happily going out to win the Silver Flash Stakes at Leopardstown. 27th July 2017

The first race in the Breeders Cup series presents one of the best chances for the Europeans to score.

There’s a strong in depth team led by Aidan O’Brien’s Happily and her stablemate September. Aidan’s son Joseph sends Now Your Talking and Fossy Stack will be hoping his 2nd reserve Goodthingstaketime will get in if two come out. The English team is led by John Gosden’s Lady Capulet and Roger Varian is sending Madeline.

The Ballydoyle pair are led by Happily who took the G1 Moyglare Stakes over seven furlongs (September back in third) , Ireland’s leading juvenile fillies race. She then went to France and contested the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Arc day, France’s leading two-year old race, where she beat the colts over a mile. September followed up the Moyglare third going to Ascot for the G1 Fillies Mile where she was denied a nose by Laurens.

Juliet Capulet owned by Cheveley Park Stud won the Rockfel Stakes, a G2 at Newmarket over seven furlongs while Madeline ran third to Clemmie over six furlongs in the G1 Cheveley Park Stakes also at Newmarket with Now Your Talking a head back in fourth. If Clemmie were here she’d start favourite for this.

The American fillies can’t boast anything like the form of the Europeans at G1 level because the pattern racing programme doesn’t cater for two year old fillies on turf until this event. That doesn’t mean they can’t compete. Chad Brown’s pair Rushing Fall winner of the G3 Jessamaine Stakes over this trip and Significant Fall who beat Best Performance in the G3 Miss Grillo Stakes can’t be dismissed. In Canada Capala Princess did win the Natalama Stakes upgraded to G1 status this year where she beat Dixie Moon.

The Europeans will have the edge in experience at the level required however what will be new to all of them will be the tight turns and short straight common to American tracks. It’s more particular pronounced at Del Mar where the straight measures just 919 feet. They will also have to cope with a firm track something they won’t have come across either before.

There’s little between the Ballydoyle pair and they are both a cut above the rest.

In early summer when September won the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot she would have been ahead of Happily in the pecking order. Since Happily has had her behind on the two occasions they met, in the Moyglare and earlier in the Debutante Stakes.

The draw is a big issue here and wide is not where you want to be. Happily will break from gate two with September in ten. Happily’s win in France against the colts was very impressive, she had Godolphin’s Masar 1 1/2 L back in third who runs later tonight in the Juvenile Turf Mile. September also beat him 2  1/4 L in the Chesham and the line just came too soon for her in the Fillies Mile last time out.

Marginal preference is for Happily on account of the draw. If they can handle the turns (and the ground) then they can fill the first two spots.

Aidan O’Brien (G1) by 26

Aidan O’Brien who has broken the world record of 25 G1’s set in 2003 by Bobby Frankel

Congratulations to Aidan O’Brien and his team as Saxon Warrior wins the Racing Post Trophy to break the world record. 

It began with Churchill in the Guineas in May. Amazing that it’s happened in Europe.

Click here to see how Aidan broke Bobby Frankel’s World Record of 25 G1 wins


Aidan O’Brien and the Bobby Frankel World Record (G1)

Aidan O’Brien in the ring at Leopardstown

The bookmakers are offering 5/2 about Aidan O’Brien breaking Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group 1/Grade 1 victories in one year which was set in 2003.

Across the world there’s been 183 G1’s run so far this year.

Aidan has won 14 of them giving him an overall strike rate of 8%.

There’s 125 G1’s left to be run this year, 40% of the overall total, so to do it he’ll have to up his strike rate to 10% to break the record.

In that context you’d say 5/2 is probably a skinny price but maybe it’s not too far off the mark either when you consider the brilliance of the man himself and the team behind him. When you consider the power of the Ballydoyle operation, the depth in quantity and more importantly the quality of the horses at his disposal, just the sheer size of the operation means it’s possible.

It’s not probable.

Let’s examine the chances in the context of the G1 contests left that he can challenge for.

Ireland will sign off it’s Group 1 season running the last 5 of it’s 12 G1’s over this Champions Weekend. England have 12 G1’s left, France another 12 with Germany providing a further 2 opportunities and Italy 1 more. That’s 32 G1’s left in Europe.

So if he were to do it running in Europe then the required strike rate would be 38%. Now that’s looking a lot tougher especially when you consider he’ll unlikely have runners in all the remaining races.

Ballydoyle had a team of 14 engaged at Chantilly this Sunday but have decided not to declare anything for either the Prix Vermeille or Prix Du Moulin, the two G1’s which are the centrepiece of a terrific card in France so maybe a third of these European opportunities can be ruled out. This pushes the required strike rate to 54%.

There are other opportunities across the globe.

In America there’s 43 G1’s to be run, 28 on dirt and 15 on turf including 6 at the Breeders Cup at Del Mar in November. In Australia there’s 29 and in Japan there’s 12. Canada has 5 and Hong Kong offer’s another 4 opportunities.

Realistically in the States it is only the Breeders Cup that will provide chances and conceivably Aidan could contest all 6 turf races plus the Breeders Cup Classic on Dirt. In Australia there’s a possibility of 3 if you include the The Cox Plate, The Melbourne Cup and Mackinnon Stakes. In Canada he could contest 4 and in Hong Kong in December chances are they would be no more than 2 opportunities.

When you add up the opportunities, you’re talking about 44/46 range that Aidan could possibly contest. 12 wins then will require a strike rate of 26%. 5/2 doesn’t look so attractive now.

It’s more likely now Bobby Frankel’s record will never now be broken.

To do so requires a level of dominance in a sport which at the top-level is ultra competitive. Aidan O’Brien is best placed to do it but even with the depth of Ballydoyle resources it’s still more impossible than possible.

It’s conceivable he could capture all 5 of the domestic G1’s on offer this weekend as he’ll likely have a favourites chance in all of them. If he did win them all it would bring his tally to 19 sending the bookmakers into overdrive to slash him to odds on to achieve the feat but he’s never done that before, won the last 5 G1’s in Ireland, that in itself is an outlandish feat.

So it can’t be done. Unless.

Unless they targeted Japan. Highland Reel, Seventh Heaven or both could take in the Tenno Sho (Autumn), The Queen Elizabeth Commemorative Cup, The Mile Championship and The Japan Cup, all on turf spaced over 4 weeks beginning the end of October. That’s makes the required strike rate 24%, still highly unlikely but wouldn’t it be something if Aidan was to release his genius out east.

He mightn’t break the record but it would be some achievement to win a Breeders Cup race and a Japan Cup this autumn.

Recommendation: Lay Aidan O’Brien to break Bobby Frankel’s Record.

PS. Paddy Power have just quoted 2/7 for AOB not to break the record.