Trainer Aidan O’Brien was in the United States preparing Mendelssohn for his ill-fated bid for glory in the Kentucky Derby when his nineteen year old son Donnacha won the 2,000 Guineas on Saxon Warrior.
However, he didn’t have to wait long to see him win a classic as the young jockey guided Forever Together home in the 2018 Oaks, winning by a comfortable four and a half lengths from Godolphin’s Wild Illusion.
Forever Together was breaking her maiden in the Oaks, she’d run three times previously and had progressed each time without reaching the winner’s enclosure. On her last run she finished second to stable companion Magic Wand in the Cheshire Oaks, a recognised Oaks trial won last year by the all-conquering Enable. Forever Together had been slightly unlucky at Chester, not finding a gap when she needed it, but she stayed on well and caught the eye of a few judges with her run.
She hit no such trouble in running today, O’Brien having her in a prime position throughout and, perhaps crucially, grabbing the rail position up the straight and forcing her chief rival Wild Illusion to her outside. That rail had proven key in earlier races and once again it was the horse on the rail who found the necessary acceleration in that last furlong and a half and Forever Together quickly had the matter settled well before the post.
Donnacha O’Brien was quick to pay tribute to his father’s training skills. “Dad’s an absolute genius, I don’t know what he does….he changes little things and they make a big difference.”
O’Brien senior was also quick to praise the young jockey, “Donnacha’s very tactically aware, he’s very confident.”
That tactical awareness may have proven key but the impression was very much that the best horse had won and with O’Brien now having won two of the three British classics run so far this season confidence is high that they can take a third in today’s Derby with favourite Saxon Warrior.