It was a record breaking day at Doncaster as Aidan O’Brien’s Saxon Warrior took the Racing Post Trophy, the final Group 1 race of the UK season, and gave the trainer a world record-breaking 26th win at the very highest level this year. O’Brien thus surpassed Bobby Frankel’s record of 25, a record O’Brien had equalled last weekend at Ascot.
Saxon Warrior, a son of Deep Impact out of European champion two year old filly Maybe, started favourite for the two year old contest, run over a mile at Doncaster in the north of England, but looked in trouble a furlong out as Roaring Lion, trained by O’Brien’s main rival John Gosden, burst through from last place to take a half length advantage. However, Aidan O’Brien trained horses are never short of fight and Saxon Warrior battled back and out-stayed Roaring Lion to win by a neck at the line.
O’Brien was quick to praise both his staff and his owners but the magnitude of his personal achievement was not lost on master trainers John Gosden and O’Brien’s former mentor Jim Bolger, both of whom have spoken publicly about their admiration for the Ballydoyle trainer, were quick to offer their personal congratulations.
The race is often a good guide to the Derby but the trainer was keen to stress that jockey Ryan Moore felt Saxon Warrior has plenty of speed and indicated that the 2,000 Guineas will be the first target for the colt’s three year old campaign. “Ryan is adamant this lad has the speed for a mile,” O’Brien said. “There’s a lot of stamina in his breeding, but he can always start in the Guineas and work upwards. The best mile-and-a-half horses are often comfortable at a mile.”
O’Brien’s record-breaking season started when he won the season’s first classic, the 2,000 Guineas, with Churchill and he has been relentlessly saddling Group 1 winners since. He’s won eight of the ten UK and Irish classics (finishing second in the other two) with only Gosden’s superstar filly Enable spoiling a perfect record by taking the Oaks on both sides of the Irish Sea.
The season isn’t over yet for O’Brien as he fields four of the seven runners in tomorrow’s Criterium De Saint Cloud in France and sends a strong team, headed by Churchill, to the Breeders Cup next weekend.