Ireland’s all-conquering champion trainer Aidan O’Brien looks likely to hit the magical 30 Gr1 winner mark before the end of this season and he could take another step closer at the QIPCO Champions Day fixture at Ascot on Saturday.
US Navy Flag led home an historic top four finish for O’Brien in Saturday’s Dewhurst Stakes in Newmarket – taking his trainer to 24 Gr1 wins this season.
US Navy Flag could have his 11th start of the season in next month’s Breeders’ Cup in Del Mar after becoming the first horse in 35 years to complete the Middle Park-Dewhurst Stakes double on Saturday after leading home his stable companions, Mendelssohn, Seahenge and Threeandfourpence at Newmarket.
The Ballydoyle squad for this weekend includes he dual-Guineas winners Churchill and Winter who both hold entries in the Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Caravaggio could have another crack at Harry Angel in the Champions Sprint while Seventh Heaven is among the possibles for the Fillies and Mares Stakes.
Before the four Gr1 races at Ascot, Ireland’s champion trainer could also be in top-class action in Australia in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Johannes Vermeer only just failed to overhaul Gailo Chop in the Ladbrokes Stakes on Saturday and on the back of his impressive first start in Asutralia he has been cut to 8-1 to make a successful reappearance in the Caulfield Cup.
The mile and a half handicap was pinpointed as a likely target for the colt by Ryan Moore as early as July and Katelyn Mallyon, who rode Johannes Vermeer on Saturday, was upbeat about the Irish horse’s chance in that $3 million (€2.5 million) race too.
Along with the Melbourne Cup, the Caulfield Cup is the first of Australian racing’s three most coveted prizes. O’Brien won the third of them, the Cox Plate, with Adelaide in 2014.
The Ballydoyle trainer is unlikely to have a runner in Sunday’s Prix Royal Oak, the French St Leger, run at Saint-Cloud but one firm is already betting on the basis that the Irishman’s pursuit of Bobby Frankel’s 25 top-flight wins in 2003 is old news.
O’Brien will also have his eye on the Breeders’ Cup weekend at Del Mar, the spring carnival in Australia and the possibility of runners at the Hong Kong International meeting, as well as the Japan Cup.