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They said what? The best Champions Series quotes of 2017

31 Dec 2017

Have a look back at what trainers and jockeys said during a fabulous year of action

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien talked about the virtues of Highland Reel on several occasions this year. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Have a look back at what trainers and jockeys said during a fabulous year of Champions Series action. We start with a succinct two-word verdict from a serial French champion trainer.

1: “It’s over.”

Andre Fabre when asked for his thoughts on Al Wukair’s staying-on third in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. He was not inclined to expand

2: “He never showed any softness in his life. He’s been travelling since 4am this morning and has only been here an hour. He didn’t have a lot of time to do anything – he had his piddle, got washed off and then came into the paddock.”

Aidan O’Brien after Highland Reel had overcome an eventful journey to Epsom to win the Investec Coronation Cup

3: “I don’t get to sit on many beasts like this at the races, so I’m going to enjoy it. I’d nearly given up on the big days, but Aidan O’Brien has made it happen. It’s happy days.”

Padraig Beggy reflects on scooping the Investec Derby aboard Wings Of Eagles at 40-1

4: “That was awesome.”

Wesley Ward sums up what most were thinking after Lady Aurelia’s brilliant success in the King’s Stand Stakes

5: “William [Buick] doesn’t feel that the tank is empty with him and that he is getting stronger the whole time. Mentally, he is also getting better – he is starting to think he is good.”

Richard Fahey on Ribchester after his victory in the Queen Anne Stakes

6: “Pace, courage, tactical speed, he has everything. He has passed every test that you would want a thoroughbred to go through. His first Group race was as a two-year-old and we have toured the world with him since then.”

Aidan O’Brien sings the praises of Highland Reel after his win in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes

7: “In the closing stages I was praying for the winning post, saying, ‘Inshallah, please God’, any religious thing I could think of to make the winning post come, and it did.”

Michael Bell on how he willed Big Orange to a short-head victory in the Gold Cup

8: “We have been a bit thin on the ground with runners this year, but it doesn’t matter when you have a horse like The Tin Man to get you out of jail.”

James Fanshawe after the success of The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes

9: “I lost 7lb in six days, but it was worth it. She is a superstar – as good as I’ve ridden. She is the real deal and I love her so much. I’ll have a big dinner tonight, that’s for sure.”

Frankie Dettori reveals how he got down to 8st 7lb to ride Enable in the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and explains why it was worth it

10: “They are not machines and you can’t just change the tyres, fill up the oil, or whatever. When a horse is on form it always looks like smooth clockwork, but getting them to the races and in the best shape of mind is not an easy thing to do.”

Lord Grimthorpe in cautious mood before Enable ran in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks. She won by five lengths

11: “I’m in shock, I thought I’d won a neck.”

Frankie Dettori after he had celebrated “winning” the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes on Lady Aurelia. The photo finish revealed he had been beaten a nose by Marsha

12: “I wasn’t sure and when I saw Frankie put his arm up, I was gutted as I thought he had won, then someone said congratulations to me and it turned into jubilation.”

Despair turns to jubilant for Luke Morris, aboard Marsha, in the Nunthorpe

13: “I’m a believer in a proper champion can win on any ground, but he’s so fast I was a little bit concerned. He’s a machine. He’s got speed to burn and that’s not how good he is. He’s there now mentally and he’ll keep on getting better.”

Adam Kirby says the best is still to come from Harry Angel after a four-length win in the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock

14: “Desert Skyline is not a great specimen – he’s a lightly framed whippet of a horse – but it’s not the size of the dog that fights, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

David Elsworth talks about Desert Skyline before the gelding’s success in the Doncaster Cup

15: “It means you have to win it again, really.”

Ryan Moore on being asked what it was like to win the first St Leger for the first time, with the help of Capri

16: “This horse has more or less kept my career going.”

Robert Winston revealed he almost quit before Librisa Breeze’s victory in the QIPCO British Champions Sprint

17: “It is a big team effort, we are only a small link in the chain and we are so grateful and delighted. We are doing our best every single day and that’s all we can do.”

Aidan O’Brien after Hydrangea’s win in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes had given him a record-equalling 25th Group 1 win of the year on Champions Day. He ended it with 28.

18: “If he was a middleweight earlier in the season, he is a light heavyweight now.”

John Gosden after Cracksman had won the QIPCO Champion Stakes by seven lengths

19: “We hope the horses have a good winter and go through to next year, but I’ve been around long enough not to count too many chickens.”

John Gosden again – on the possibility of Enable and Cracksman meeting in 2018