Luxembourg Is 400th Group/Grade 1 Winner Worldwide for Aidan O’Brien

May 28, 2023

Luxembourg, a milestone winner for Aidan O’Brien (David Betts)

By Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Luxembourg won the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh, Ireland, on Sunday and in the process gave Irish champion trainer Aidan O’Brien a 400th success at Group/Grade 1 level.

The son of Camelot, winner of last September’s Royal Bahrain Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, was re-opposing French star Vadeni on Sunday, last year’s Champion Stakes winner at Newmarket, England, Bay Bridge, was also competing in what was a small but very select field of six for the €450,000 contest. 

The Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Vadeni had finished behind Luxembourg at Leopardstown in 2022 and subsequently finished runner-up to Alpinista in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp, France.

A Luxembourg versus Vadeni clash did not materialise today, however, as the French star produced a disappointing display and was never in a challenging position. He was found on examination post-race to have been coughing which likely explains the lacklustre performance from the son of Churchill.

The Coolmore partners and Westerberg-owned Luxembourg did not disappoint though and it was the improving five-year-old Bay Bridge, a conqueror of the 2021 Epsom Derby winner Adayar, last year, who would give the race favourite the biggest challenge. 

Taking charge of the race from the starting stalls, jockey Ryan Moore allowed the four-year-old Luxembourg to dictate the pace from the front. The 11/4 favourite was challenged by British raider Bay Bridge down the home stretch with the Sir Michael Stoute-handled son of New Bay giving the Aidan O’Brien runner most to do. 

In a stirring finish, Luxembourg left the disappointment of his seasonal reappearance in the Mooresbridge Stakes at The Curragh in early May behind him (when he finished fifth of seven runners), battling to a half-length win from Bay Bridge, with Piz Badille, trained by Aidan O’Brien’s younger son Donnacha a further six length behind in third place.

For the winning handler Aidan O’Brien the win was an incredible 400th Group or Grade 1 victory worldwide with 22 of those successes at the highest level coming over jumps in the earlier part of his career.

The County Wexford-born trainer spoke of the achievement and as usual complimented the entire Ballydoyle and Coolmore team:

“For us it’s a privilege to be involved. That is hard work from so many people. We just feel so privileged to be working with so many special people. The lads (the Coolmore partners) put so much in day in, day out. It’s their life, their business, their passion, their hobby. For us it’s a privilege to be able to work with everyone all the time. We’re a small part of a big team and I’m delighted for everyone.”

O’Brien was effusive in his praise of English jockey Ryan Moore following the victory of Luxembourg: 

“Absolute masterclass. He shows it every day of the week. He’s confident, he’s mature, he’s dedicated, he’s passionate, he’s very strong – he has everything really. A great fellow to work with which makes it all very special. He’s a very good person, everyone loves him, he’s focused and for us it’s a privilege to have him here.”

Discussing today’s newer race tactics of making the pace, the Master of Ballydoyle explained: 

“He was happy to make the running or he was happy to take a lead. He’s a horse that gets a mile and a quarter very strongly. Obviously, the last day was his first day (this season) and we were happy to sit in and give him his day out. The great thing about him, looking at him today, is that he’s very happy to make his own running. When a horse does that it makes him very strong, very independent and he’s not at the mercy of anybody. You can put in pacemakers for horses but everything has to fall into place, but he showed today he’s very happy to make his own running.”

Discussing the Ben Sangster-bred Luxembourg, Aidan O’Brien stated:

“He’s been a serious horse all the time. You must remember he went to the Irish Champion Stakes after a terrible preparation. He went to the Arc (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) then in very bad ground. The lads (owners) had the patience to leave him alone. He’s a very very serious horse. He’s not for kids, he’s a hardy customer (individual), and he’s tough, he has ability and he has loads of class.”

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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