O’Brien pur­sues his­toric Clas­sic hat-trick

Cham­pion trainer can make his­tory in the Ken­tucky Derby

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports - BRIAN O’CON­NOR

No sooner has the Na­tional Hunt sea­son ended than the count­down to the Clas­sics be­gins with Ai­dan O’Brien in pur­suit of an un­prece­dented Clas­sic hat-trick this week­end.

It’s 20 years since King Of Kings gave O’Brien the first of eight vic­to­ries in the English 2,000 Guineas and Gus­tav Klimt is a gen­eral 5-2 favourite to make it nine at New­mar­ket on Satur­day.

The fol­low­ing day Hap­pily tops the bet­ting for the 1,000 Guineas. But it is in be­tween that Ire­land’s cham­pion trainer can make his­tory in Amer­i­can rac­ing’s most famous prize, the Ken­tucky Derby.

No Euro­pean trained horse has ever won “The Run For The Roses” but Men­delssohn is one of the favourites for Satur­day night’s race, fa­mously tagged the great­est two min­utes in sport.

O’Brien has con­firmed the spec­tac­u­lar UAE Derby win­ner will travel to Churchill Downs to­day and Cool­more’s num­ber one rider Ryan Moore will team up with Men­delssohn on Satur­day night.

“He’ll travel over on Mon­day and go into quar­an­tine. He’ll work on the track on Thurs­day and Fri­day,” O’Brien told US me­dia.

The Bal­ly­doyle trainer has had five pre­vi­ous run­ners in the Ken­tucky Derby al­though Master of Hounds’ fifth in 2011 is the near­est he’s got to vic­tory.

How­ever it has given O’Brien valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence of the unique event and what Men­delssohn will face.


“It’s a very dif­fer­ent at­mos­phere to what we’d be used to here in Europe. It can get very loud in the pa­rade out onto the track. We’d be very hope­ful he’ll deal with it though. We are con­fi­dent he can get away fast. He has shown he has the pace to lay up early.

“He broke well in Del Mar last sea­son. He broke well at Dun­dalk this sea­son and he broke well again in Dubai. So we’d be con­fi­dent he can do the same out there,” he added.

O’Brien also in­di­cated that the three-year-old Sea­henge and Three and fourpence, as well as the older horse, Deauville, are likely to race on the Churchill Downs un­der­card.

The vi­tal Ken­tucky Derby post po­si­tion draw is set to take place to­day.

The shape of the Guineas races will be­come clearer to­day with the five-day for­feits for the colts clas­sic.


Men­delssohn with Ryan Moore up wins the Breed­ers Cup Ju­ve­nile Turf last year.

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