Can Love Enhance Aidan O’Brien’s British Classics Record?

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Aidan O’Brien has won 14 of the last 25 British Classics (2015-2019). His 1 in 1.8 strike rate in the five UK Flat races that matter most over the last five years is unprecedented. He has one chance to improve that record in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday.

The Irish champion trainer runs Love who can be backed at +450 with Coral to win the fillies’ race over the straight Rowley Mile. The horse is ridden by Ryan Moore who has been aboard six of those 14 Classic winners.

To put O’Brien’s record in the British Classics in perspective, the current champion Flat trainer in the UK is John Godsen. He has trained the winner of four British Classics over the last five years. Richard Hannon is numerically the most successful Flat trainer in the history of British racing. He has won just one Classic in that spell and Sir Michael Stoute won the last of his 15 Classics in 2010.

Statistically, over the last half decade O’Brien is -125 to win any of the five most prestigious races in the sport. The Classics are the most sought after Flat races and very wealthy individuals have invested fortunes with little success. O’Brien trains for the Coolmore owners who target these races. Logically, Love must be backed to win the 2020 1000 Guineas but the form suggests otherwise.

O’Brien has won 35 British Classics in total and here is his race-by-race record:

Race Number of wins
2000 Guineas 10 wins (1998 to 2019)
1000 Guineas 5 wins (2005 to 2019)
The Derby 7 wins (2001 to 2019)
The Oaks 7 wins (1998 to 2018)
St Leger 6 wins (2001 to 2018)

So, his first Classic win in the UK was in 1998 and he has won all but 53 of the last 88 British Classics (before the 2000 Guineas this Saturday). His overall record equates to odds of about +150 which is phenomenal over a sustained period of 22 years.

The late Sir Henry Cecil is one of the best trainers in the history of the sport and he won 25 British Classics from 1975 to 2011. His strike rate is about one in six which translates to odds of +500. O’Brien is way ahead of Cecil on the numbers.

Here are the trainer’s five winners of the 1000 Guineas:

Year Horse Jockey Starting Price Official Rating
2005 Virginia Waters Kieren Fallon +1200 115
2012 Homecoming Queen Ryan Moore +2500 105
2016 Minding Ryan Moore +110 Fav 120
2017 Winter Wayne Lordan +1000 117
2019 Hermosa Wayne Lordan +1400 113

O’Brien has also 42 Irish Classics but apparently he firmly believes the best horse he has ever trained is Istabraq who won three Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham. If horses could talk, Dylan Thomas (2007) and Found (2016), winners of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for O’Brien, may disagree. The trainer’s seven Derby winners would also no doubt object to a hurdler being above them in the pecking order of the best horses to be under his care. At the moment Love is well down that list.

O’Brien’s only runner in the 1000 Guineas has an Official Rating of 111. The horse has won three races from seven starts and amassed £313,408 in prize money. One of the major juvenile trials for the Classic is the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket in October. Love finished one and three quarter lengths behind the winner Quadrilateral in third place.

Despite O’Brien’s record in the British Classics, Love is not fancied to reverse the form so Quadrilateral looks a better thing in the 1000 Guineas. The current favourite, trained by Roger Charlton, is a best-priced +225 with Ladbrokes.

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