Racing

Saxon Warrior gives O'Brien record 26 Group 1 victories

Irish training legend goes one better than the late Bobby Frankel in number of Group 1 wins in a year

Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien broke the world record for Group/Grade 1 wins in a calendar year on Saturday when Saxon Warrior won the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in England.

Saxon Warrior, ridden by stable jockey Ryan Moore, gave the 48-year-old legend his 26th win of the year to break the mark set by the late Bobby Frankel in 2003.

O'Brien, wearing his traditional dark glasses no matter what the weather, remained his unflappable self while his family and others congratulated him.

John Gosden, trainer of the runner-up Roaring Lion who had denied him on two occasions in last weekend's Champions Day at Ascot, affectionately rubbed the back of his head.

However, O'Brien, who began life working for Irish training great Jim Bolger and moved on as assistant trainer to his wife Anne-Marie when she trained National Hunt horses and was crowned Irish champion trainer, refused to accept all the glory for himself despite despairing efforts of the interviewer.

"Sure it is unbelievable," he told ITV.

"So delighted, so terrific for everybody.

"I am but a small link in a big chain. A lot of hard work has been put in by an awful lot of people and I don't want to name them as I might forget one of their names.

"I am just very privileged to be in this position."

O'Brien is unlikely to be popping the corks on the champagne this evening unlike the late Bobby Frankel, his predecessor as holder of the world record for Group 1 winners in a season.

Instead, the Irishman is more likely to have a cup of tea in his typical understated and humble way which sets him apart from many of his rivals.

O'Brien may lack the extrovert cheeky chappie style of American Bob Baffert, not possess the charisma of the late Henry Cecil or the bonhomie of Michael Stoute but he is a reflective deep-thinking soul more cast in the mould of his namesake the late Vincent O'Brien.

Blood relations they may not be, but since 1996 Aidan O'Brien has been installed in Ballydoyle Stables which Vincent bought in 1951 and turned into a state of the art training ground for legends such as Nijinsky, Alleged and El Gran Senor.

O'Brien has adopted the Rudyard Kipling line of meeting success and failure with the same grace.

"I always feel you do your best every day, whatever comes then, you have to accept it," he told The Independent in 2009.

"We all make loads of mistakes, with people, and decisions you make.

"My own opinion is that if you keep the faith, and say your prayers, it has a chance of working out.

"I've made loads of mistakes. But I've always been so thankful, going to bed every night. You don't have to believe in God, to ask for God's help.

"If you ask, it will come. It might not come today, might not come tomorrow, might not come the way you want. But when you look back it will be the right thing." - AFP

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