For any who still feel that So You Think may owe European defeats to training methods a reminder that the youthful and modest Aidan O’Brien already has a record to match Bart Cummings himself. Mistakes are rarely made by any great trainer and Aidan is up there with the greatest, Ireland’s Champion Trainer for the past 13 successive years and still only 42 years of age.
Champion Amateur Jockey of 1993/94, Aidan trained his first winner that same season, on his first day as a licensed Trainer. It was a sign of things to come. In 1996, he became Ireland’s youngest ever Champion Trainer, a title he has now held continuously since 1998. In 2001, he became the youngest ever Champion British Trainer, and the first overseas holder of the title since Vincent O’Brien. Having only taken out his trainers’ licence in 1993, by 1995 Aidan had broken numerous records in National Hunt racing, becoming the first trainer to saddle a 1-2-3 in the Galway Plate. He trained Istabraq to win three Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham (1998, 1999 & 2000) and was denied a record fourth win due to an outbreak of Foot And Mouth Disease, which saw the meeting cancelled.
Aidan O'Brien giving instructions to his work riders
But it’s as a Flat trainer that Aidan has written his place in the history books. He trained his first Classic winners in 1997, when taking both the Irish Two Thousand Guineas and Irish Derby, having already won at Group One level on the Flat in 1996. He has since won no less than 44 Classics in England, Ireland and France, including The Derby twice, achieving the feat of training the 1-2 in 2002.
In 2001 Aidan set a remarkable new record when training the winners of every Group One race for juveniles in England, Ireland and France. His domination at the highest level continued in 2008 when he saddled no less than 23 Group One winners worldwide, which included a clean sweep of all five Irish Classics, becoming the first trainer to do so since 1935. He also equalled former Ballydoyle resident Vincent O’Brien’s record of six winners at Royal Ascot, four of which were at the highest level, including Yeats’ record equalling third consecutive Gold Cup. Yeats of course went on to win four back-to-back Gold Cups, a feat unlikely to be repeated.
2011 saw O’Brien saddle the 1-2-3 in the Irish Derby an extraordinary second time and he was winning the race for the sixth consecutive year, nine in total. He has won 26 Irish Classics, as well as four French Classics and 14 English Classics. Further afield, he has trained the winner of Canada’s International twice, has trained the winners of three Breeders’ Cups and has won the Arlington Million twice. 12 North American Group One trophies currently adorn his cabinet, while his total tally of Group One races currently stands at 100. He may only be half way towards Bart’s tally, but he has another 40 years to catch up! Question his ability at your peril!