Aidan O'Brien continues his domination of Newmarket and British Classics
He came, he saw, he conquered – again! Aidan O’Brien’s remarkable dominance of British and Newmarket Classics continued over the weekend as Magna Grecia and Hermosa triumphed in the QIPCO 2000 and 1000 Guineas respectively.
It means the Ballydoyle trainer has now won six of the last eight Classics staged at Headquarters and nine of the previous 12 to be run in Britain.
The first leg of O’Brien’s fourth Guineas Festival double was completed on Saturday by Magna Grecia, who won what many considered to be a wide open 2000 Guineas.
Last season’s Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes winner was one of just three on the stands’ rail, cutting themselves adrift of the pack.
Yet, it proved to be the master stroke as O’Brien’s second favourite put his seal on the contest, coming out of the dip and forging clear to win by an emphatic two-and-a-half lengths from 66/1 shot King Of Change.
It took O’Brien’s number of 2000 Guineas victories to an unrivalled 10 – the first of which came in May 1998, a couple of months before his son and jockey Donnacha was born.
“We thought he would get a mile well but he has developed a lot of speed as well, he stays well but he is starting to travel this yeah so we could not be happier with him,” said O’Brien.
“John (Magnier) knows pedigrees like nobody, he has been putting pedigrees together all his life and he always thought that he would be a miler and I would imagine that’s the route he will take now.
“We discussed it the other night and thought the best route would be the Irish Guineas and then Ascot for the St James’s Palace Stakes.
“The lads put so much work into the pedigrees, day in, day out, and we are so privileged to be part of a massive team that all do such a great job.
“He is such a lovely straightforward horse, he’s become very pacey, he is a strong traveller now and is very uncomplicated.
“We were a bit worried that he was up the near side and away from a lot of the other fancied horses but Donnacha got him into a terrific position and into a lovely rhythm.
“He knew the horse, he has been riding him in all of his work, so I did not need to say anything to Donnacha. It looked a well run race which would have helped him.”
Hermosa, meanwhile, was supposedly O’Brien’s third string but after setting the pace early on, she stretched her lead further as they hit the rising ground to eventually win by a length from Lady Kaya.
It provided jockey Wayne Lordan with a second 1000 Guineas victory, coming on the back of his 2017 win with O’Brien’s Winter.
He said: “I rode her aggressively, because she stays really well but she saves a little bit for herself.
“I would not think she would have any problem staying the Oaks trip. I actually fancied her. I thought she had good form.
“She is a filly who will stay and she saves enough. I knew, riding her here, if you jump out and go real forward and they start lining up behind you, it would take a really good one to get by her. It is great to be riding in these races and to get a win is fantastic.”
From O’Brien’s perspective, the filly’s success owed a lot to a winter in which she showed marked improvement from finishing second in the bet365 Fillies’ Mile over course and distance in 2018.
“She did very well over the winter and ran an unbelievable race in the Fillies’ Mile here last year and she is very uncomplicated,” he said.
“She is tough, like her sister (Group 1 winner Hydrangea). She stays well.
“Wayne gave her a great ride. It is just a privilege and it’s a credit to everyone at home.”
“Physically, she has changed a lot over the winter and really grew into a three-year-old. She is a very tough filly.”
The win took O’Brien’s 1000 Guineas tally to five, still four short of Robert Robson, who trained nine victors during the early 1800s.