Gleneagles and Churchill the best of my Guineas winners, says O’Brien
2 May 2018
Aidan O'Brien discusses his record-breaking haul in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas
Twenty years have passed since Aidan O’BrienQIPCO 2000 Guineas and the trainer has cherished memories of the day.
King Of Kings was O’Brien’s first runner in the Classic – and his only representative that year – and the son of Sadler’s Wells beat his 17 rivals with something to spare under Mick Kinane after being sent off at 7-2.
“He was a great horse,” O’Brien recalled at his Ballydoyle yard this week. “As a two-year-old he was very good and Christy [Roche, who rode him as a juvenile] loved him the first time he sat on him and was always raving about him. “He was our first Guineas winner and it was an incredible day. Mick gave him a brilliant ride. He came down the outside and won very easily.”
Rock Of Gibraltar (2002), Footstepsinthesand (2005), George Washington (2006), Henrythenavigator (2008), Camelot (2012), Gleneagles (2015) and Churchill (2017) have subsequently helped O’Brien accumulate a record-breaking eight winners in the race.
“Our best was probably Gleneagles and Churchill,” the record-breaking champion trainer said. “They were two Galileos, had lots of speed and were very classy colts [having been] very good two-year-olds. They were best of our bunch, I think.
“Gleneagles was a serious horse He had a great pedigree, was a great traveller and had a great mind. He used to quicken very well and he was an out-and-out miler.
“Churchill is as good a miler as we’ve ever had. We went a mile and quarter with him but I’d say really he was a real proper miler. He had a lot of speed, a lot of class and was a big laidback horse with a great physique. He was also a very brave horse.”
O’Brien knows better than anyone what is required to win the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, which is the annually first race in the QIPCO British Champion Series.
He said: “You have to have a pacey horse, they have to stay well and usually they have to be straightforward. “It’s a tough race and Newmarket is a tough track, especially at that time for a three-year-old. They have to be very classy and mature early.”
He added: “For the profile of the thoroughbred breed it’s very important that they can come out and race at two, and then come out early as three-year-olds and perform. It’s pure, natural ability that makes them do that – they can’t do it if they haven’t got the ability. You can wait on horses, but the natural ones should be able to come out and perform early.”