Ballydoyle’s mob-handed approach to the Irish Classics has often left punters more confused than a post-match Nigel Pearson press conference.
But Aidan O’Brien has an enviable record of getting it right in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket where big-race favourite Gleneagles (below) and shiny new retained rider Ryan Moore hold the key to the first Classic of the season on Saturday.
And while Joseph O’Brien has hit the protein powder and gets down to 9st to ride second string Ol’ Man River – there’s a couple of compelling reasons why the stable’s No 1 contender is usually their best bet.
Irish trainers have won six of the last 10 2,000 Guineas over Newmarket’s Rowley mile.
O’Brien has trained four of them (Camelot 2012, Henrythenavigator 2008, George Washington 2006 and Footstepsinthesand 2005) as part of his six-winner haul that also includes Rock of Gibraltar 2002 and King of Kings in 1998.
A feature of those winners is that five of the six (bar Rock of Gibraltar who chinned 6/4f Hawk Wing) were the stable’s first string while all six victors went to post without a prep run that season.
So if you’re guessing that Gleneagles may need the run or that Ol’ Man River is the one to beat – guess again.
Last year’s eventual Epsom Derby winner Australia was O’Brien’s first choice in the Colts’ Classic – finishing a close third behind shock 40/1 winner Night of Thunder and 6/4 fav Kingman, but did win the race on his ‘side’.
Newmarket has moved the stalls from the middle of the course this year to try and ensure the first Classic of the season – where Paddy’s paying the first four home – is less dependent on the draw and doesn’t end up like the Lincoln.
If Gleneagles justifies the ante-post faith in him on Saturday expect more over reaction than a Daily Mail editorial to O’Brien’s entries in Sunday’s 1,000 Guineas and the Epsom Classics as Flat racing’s dominant force start to gear up again.