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Champions Series 2021: Aidan O’Brien stable stars for new season

2 Feb 2021

As always Aidan O'Brien has a stable full of Classic potential, we've taken a look at his big players for the season

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien has already trained the winners of 66 QIPCO British Champions Series races. His tally of 13 wins in 2017 contributing to his record 28 Group 1 winners that he enjoyed that year.

Last year was not so productive for O’Brien when he scooped five Series wins. He could hardly grumble however as they included the winners of three of the five Classics. Love romped home in the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks, while Serpentine ran away with the Investec Derby.

He came close to a clean-sweep in the Classics as Wichita went down by a neck in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas. Santiago was beaten little more than a length when fourth in the Pertemps St Leger.

Classic heroes return

Serpentine and Love remain in training for 2021. It’s the first time that the Investec Derby and Oaks winner have both returned the following year since Ruler Of The World and Talent after their respective Epsom triumphs in 2013.

Irish Derby one-two  Santiago and Dawn Patrol will also return. Amhran Na Bhfiann (third in the Derby), Armory, Japan, Lope Y Fernandez, Peaceful, Russian Emperor, Tiger Moth, Vatican City, Sovereign and Mogul will also be back. The last-named won the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase in December.

Circus Maximus and Magical have been retired but there are no shortage of three-year-olds who could fill that void.

More glory on QIPCO Guineas weekend?

Battleground, St Marks Basilica, Wembley and High Definition feature prominently in the ante-post betting for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1. The first race in this year’s Champions Series. The trainer has already won the first Classic of the year a record ten times. On each occasion the horses were making their seasonal reappearances.

Battleground, St Marks Basilica, Wembley and High Definition feature prominently in the ante-post betting for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 1. The first race in this year’s Champions Series. The trainer has already won the first Classic of the year a record ten times. On each occasion the horses were making their seasonal reappearances.

Santa Barbara, taking winner of an 18-runner maiden at The Curragh in September, fits into the “could be anything brigade” and is a leading fancy for the QIPCO 1000 Guineas at Headquarters 24 hours later. She also heads the ante-post betting for the Oaks.

Typically, O’Brien has any number of Derby possibles, with High Definition at the head of many shortlists for the premier Classic. The Galileo colt won on his debut at The Curragh in August and left a deep impression when coming from an unpromising position to land the Group 2 Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes over a mile at the same course on his next start.

O’Brien said at the time: “He’s lovely and puts away a lot of ground. He’s a big, rangy horse with a massive, big stride and is one to really look forward to. He could start in a Guineas and he looks like he’ll be a middle-distance horse.

Santa Barbara won on the same card and the trainer said: “She’s a big, powerful filly with loads of class. She was just ready to go racing. We just needed to get a run into her and she’s going to be lovely for next year.”

Abundance of two-year-old talent

Other taking winners for O’Brien as two-year-olds included Sandhurst, Duke Of Mantua, Roman Empire, Arturo Toscanini, Hudson River, Queen’s Speech and Lough Derg.

And remember the trainer often has top horses who did not make it to the track as juveniles. Ruler Of The World won the Derby in 2013 for O’Brien after making his debut less than two months earlier. Sir Dragonet, fifth in the 2019 Derby after going off favourite, only made his debut on April 29 that year.