Aidan O’Brien, top trainer, high quality breeder

November 11, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. – As all owners and trainers know, it is extremely difficult to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Each contest is highly competitive, as a victory in the highly-sought after Grade 1 contests usually crowns a successful season for any handler.

Ballydoyle trainer Aidan O’Brien has achieved victories throughout the world but his achievement in the Grade 1 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF last weekend must rank as one of his most spectacular.

Yes, he won a Breeders’ Cup race. In O’Brien’s case some people may ask ‘so what?’ as the Co. Wexford, Ireland-born trainer always crosses the Atlantic with a strong team. The Coolmore trainer almost invariably comes away from the Breeders’ Cup World Championships with a win – he had 12 prior to Saturday – or at least, some top placings.

On day two of the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, O’Brien and Team Ballydoyle achieved a trifecta, a 1-2-3, in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in Keeneland, as 73-1 chance Order Of Australia led home the victory parade in a race in which the Irish handler had previously been 0-for-22.

The winning horse’s price set a Breeders’ Cup record for the highest winning payout ($148.40) in the Mile event, and it was the second-highest payout in Breeders’ Cup history, topped only by the payout of $269.20 for 133-1 outsider Arcangues in the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Aidan O’Brien did not only train the winner of this year’s renewal of the Mile race, he and his wife Anne Marie also bred the son of Coolmore stallion Australia, through their Whisperview Trading bloodstock firm.

Order Of Australia, a two-time winner from seven previous starts, is owned by Anne Marie O’Brien with the Coolmore partners, Derrick Smith, Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor.

A neck behind Order Of Australia was his stablemate, Circus Maximus, a three-time victor at the highest level in Europe, and also owned by Coolmore. Lope Y Fernandez, the third O’Brien-handled colt in the race, was third, three-quarters of a length behind, for Co. Tipperary, Ireland-based Coolmore.

Speaking from Ireland post-race, Aidan O’Brien said: “I suppose Circus Maximus might have been the most fancied and then Lope Y Fernandez, and then no one knew much about this horse (Order Of Australia). It was the first time for him to ever race at this trip on a track with fast ground.”

The winning colt, Order Of Australia, is out of Senta’s Dream, a daughter of Danehill, who cost the O’Brien’s only $24,042 (14,000 guineas) when purchased through BBA Ireland at the 2013 Tattersalls December Sale.

Senta’s Dream now has the rare distinction of having supplied back-to-back Breeders’ Cup winners, as her daughter Iridessa won the 2019 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf for Aidan’s son, Joseph O’Brien.

Aidan and Anne Marie O’Brien have bred other top-class horses such as Beethoven, scorer in the Group 1 Jumeirah Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, England; Group 1 Investec Oaks heroine at Epsom, England, Qualify; Group 1 Moyglare Stud Stakes winner at The Curragh, Ireland, Intricately, and Group 1 Racing Post Trophy hero at Doncaster, England, Kingsbarns.

With another incredible training accomplishment in his Breeders’ Cup Mile trifecta at Keeneland, the victory of Order Of Australia has again shown that O’Brien is not just a world-class trainer; he is also a horse breeder of the highest quality.

Photo: Order Of Australia finishing first in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile with O’Brien’ Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez, second and third, respectively. (Coady)

Contributing Authors

Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Breandán Ó hUallacháin writes about Irish, British, French and Australian horseracing, both National Hunt and Flat. He has an interest in the history of racing...

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