O’Brien ready to roll as Ireland set to resume racing
British horse racing has proven popular with local enthusiasts
SA racing fans will be pleased and trainer Aidan O’Brien cock-a-hoop — racing will resume in Ireland on June 8. It is hoped racing in England may restart at Newcastle a week earlier, June 1.
Pools for place accumulator and jackpots provide proof that SA punters are more attracted to British racing than the fare of Sweden and Australia.
Racing enthusiasts know the big names in Britain — jockeys Frankie Dettori and Sylvester De Souza and trainers O’Brien, John Gosden and Michael Stoute.
Irish racing was not due to resume until June 29 but Horseracing Ireland was successful in its proposal to the Irish government to bring it back a stage.
“This is a big economic sector, a lot of people are employed in it and it's worth nearly half a billion euros to the economy each year,” said leader Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
“It won’t be open to spectators for the foreseeable future. We need to be more or less aligned with what’s happening in France and the UK,” he said.
O’Brien will be anxious to get choicely bred thoroughbreds into action and it will be interesting which horses he has lined up for the 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas as his record in recent years borders on a monopoly.
Fifty-year-old O’Brien — no relation of the late legendary Irish trainer Vincent O’Brien — has won four of the last five runnings of the 2000 Guineas and three of the last four 1000 Guineas.
Since 1996 he has been a private trainer at Ballydoyle stables near Cashel in County Tipperary for John Magnier and his Coolmore stud associates. Magnier has a handful of horses in training in SA.
Some of O’Brien’s stars became household names with racing enthusiasts and the racing experts at Timeform have published their top 10 of O’Brien’s big winners in recent years. That the Halifax-based organisation rates Hawk King at the top of the table will raise eyebrows when one considers the outstanding careers of Galileo and Rock Of Gibraltar.
Here is the top 10 with TR representing Timeform's rating.
1. Hawk King (TR 136): It is his 11 lengths rout of his rivals in the 2003 Lockinge Stakes which earned him his high rating. Though he won three of his four starts as a juvenile, he was beaten by High Chapparal in the Derby.
2. Galileo (TR 134): Won his first six starts including his debut by 13 lengths. First horse since Generous in 1991 to complete the treble of Derby, Irish Derby and King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Became a hugely successful sire when retired.
3. Rip Van Winkle (TR 134): Impressive wins in the grade 1 Sussex Stakes and 2010 grade 1 Juddmonte International at York.
4. Stravinsky (TR 133): Won the 1999 July Cup at Newmarket and Nunthorpe Stakes at York.
5. Rock Of Gibraltar: (TR 133): Won five times as a juvenile. Major wins came in the Sussex Stakes, St James Palace Stakes and Prix de Moulin de Longchamp.
6. George Washington (TR 133): Won 2006 2000 Guineas. Sad end to his career when destroyed after breaking down in the Breeders Cup Classic at Monmouth.
7. Fame And Glory (TR 133): High-class stayer and winner of the 2011 Gold Cup at Ascot.
8. So You Think (TR 133): Raced in Australia before joining O’Brien. Won a total of 10 grade 1 races including the Prince Of Wales Stakes at Ascot.
9. Excelebration (TR 133): Had misfortune of racing in the same period as superstar Frankel. Second behind him in the 2012 Greenham Stakes and QE 11 Stakes at Ascot.
10. All of Australia, Dylan Thomas, High Chapparal and Duke Of Marmalade have a Timeform rating of 132. The latter stands at Drakenstein Stud in the Cape.