AIDAN O’Brien will have opportunities in five Group 1 races in three countries over the next few days as he chases down the late American trainer Bobby Frankel’s 2003 record of 25 Group/Grade 1 winners in a calendar year.
O’Brien moved on to the 23 Group/Grade 1 winner-mark with the success of Roly Poly in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last weekend and goes into battle over the next few days with:
• Three runners in Friday’s Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket
• Four runners in Saturday’s Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket
• Two runners in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes in Australia on Saturday morning
• And runners in both Grade 1s at Woodbine in Canada on Saturday night
Dual Group 1 winner Happily will spearhead the Ballydoyle challenge for the latest Group 1 of the season, the bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket tomorrow (Friday). She will be joined in the race by stable companions Magical and September. In all, there 12 runners declared and the Irish challenge is further strengthened by the presence of the Edward Lynam-trained Muirin. O’Brien has previously won the Fillies’ Mile on five occasions and is chasing fourth-straight success in the race.
At Newmarket on Saturday, O’Brien is responsible for four of the nine runners that will line-up for the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes. He will saddle previous Group 1 winner U S Navy Flag, the Group 2 winner Seahenge and maiden winners Mendelssohn and Threeandfourpence, a race that he has won for the past two years and five times in all. The O’Brien quartet will be joined by the Jim Bolger-trained Theobald.
At 5.50 on Saturday morning (Irish time), O’Brien will have two runners in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes in Melbourne, Australia. He will be represented by both Taj Mahal and Johannes Vermeer which will be ridden by local riders Damien Oliver and Katelyn Mallyon. The Ballydoyle pair will be joined by Willie Mullins’ Riven Light in the ten-furlong event.
On Saturday night, O’Brien crosses the Atlantic to run two horses at the International meeting at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada. Ryan Moore will take the mount on Rain Goddess in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a race O’Brien has yet to win. Moore will also partner early favourite Idaho in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International which has attracted ten runners.
There is no shortage of top-level action in Europe, America, Australia and Hong Kong between now and the end of the year, with plenty of opportunities for O’Brien to finally break a record he has come so close to over the past few years.
Over the next three weeks there are a dozen Group 1s in Europe, two in Canada, a full range of possibilities (listed below) at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, three Grade 1 events in play during the spring festival at Flemington’s Melbourne Cup meeting and four additional chances in Hong Kong in December.
REMAINING GROUP/GRADE 1 RACES IN 2017*
Oct 13th Newmarket, bet365 Fillies’ Mile
Oct 14th Newmarket, Dubai Dewhurst
Oct 14th Caulfield, Caulfield Stakes
Oct 15th Woodbine, Pattison Canadian International
Oct 15th Woodbine, EP Taylor Stakes
Oct 21st Caulfield, Caulfield Cup
Oct 21st Ascot, Qipco Champion Stakes
Oct 21st Ascot, Qipco British Champions Fillies and Mares
Oct 21st Ascot, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Oct 21st Ascot, Qipco British Champions Sprint
Oct 22nd Saint-Cloud Prix Royal-Oak
Oct 28th Moonee, Valley WS Cox Plate
Oct 28th Doncaster, Racing Post Trophy
Oct 29th Saint-Cloud, Criterium De Saint Cloud
Oct 29th Saint-Cloud, Criterium International
Oct 29th Rome, Primio Lydia Tesio
Nov 1st Munich, Grosser Preis Von Bayern
Nov 3rd Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Distaff
Nov 3rd Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf
Nov 3rd Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile
Nov 3rd Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Classic
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Turf
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Juvenile
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Mile
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Sprint
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint
Nov 4th Del Mar, Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Nov 7th Flemington, Melbourne Cup
Nov 25th Del Mar, Hollywood Derby
Nov 26th Del Mar, Matriarch Stakes
Dec 10th Sha Tin, Longines Hong Kong Cup
Dec 10th Sha Tin, Longines Hong Kong Mile
Dec 10th Sha Tin, Longines Hong Kong Sprint
Dec 10th Sha Tin, Longines Hong Kong Vase
*There are additional Grade 1 races in Australia and US not listed here given the historical non-participation of Ballydoyle-trained runners