Beresford bonanza: how Aidan O'Brien has dominated his rivals

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 23 Sep 2022

There are rarely any certainties in racing but Aidan O’Brien training the winner of the Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford Stakes almost comes with a guarantee.

O’Brien has landed the past 11 renewals of the Group Two contest and his overall tally heading into Saturday’s latest edition at The Curragh stands at a mammoth 21.

For good measure, he saddled the first three in 2016 and on six other occasions has been responsible for the first two home, with a short head twice being the winning margin in those races.

O’Brien’s first Beresford runner, No Animosity, finished fourth in 1995 but Johan Cruyff clicked for him a year later and a pattern was swiftly established, with the next five runnings of the mile feature also being won by a Ballydoyle contender.

John Oxx, Jessica Harrington and Michael Halford have had the audacity to break his dominance from time to time, with Oxx clearly not playing fair in 2008 when unleashing Sea The Stars.

But it’s been one-way traffic since 2011, including when the race was switched to Naas in 2017 and 2018, while redevelopment work was carried out at The Curragh. Different venue, same result.

O’Brien likes safety in numbers, having had at least two runners in the race since 1996 on all bar four occasions.

But punters can usually trust his best-fancied challenger, as his shortest-priced runner has fared best – in victory or defeat – all bar three times. One of the rare exceptions was in 2018, when Japan (11-2) conquered Mount Everest (11-8) by a few inches.

Sixteen of his winners have gone off favourite, and each of his 13 odds-on chances have obliged.

Angus McNae studies last year's renewal

When O’Brien has relied on one runner, going back to 1997, he has won every time, often by wide margins. It is a tip in itself when he goes solo.

Naturally, several of O’Brien’s Beresford beauties have gone on to greater things. Eight of his victors subsequently won at least one Group One/Grade One race, with 11 going on to be stallions - a vocation that also awaits Luxembourg, his winner last year.

Eight of O'Brien's Beresford winners - all since 2005 - have subsequently run in the Derby. None have won, but Eagle Mountain (second in 2007), Japan (third in 2019) and Saxon Warrior (fourth in 2018 after landing the 2000 Guineas) all made the frame.

Luxembourg was a hot favourite for the Derby this year but missed out because of injury, as did St Nicholas Abbey in 2010. The latter would go on to show his prowess at Epsom by winning the Coronation Cup a record three times.

Capri (2016) was sixth at Epsom before scooping the Irish Derby and English St Leger.

High Definition snatches victory from the jaws of defeat in 2020

Aidan's class of 2022

O'Brien relies on Adelaide River and Continuous. At the odds on offer, the bookmakers reckon he has a 50/50 chance of chalking up Beresford winner No 22.

ADELAIDE RIVER (best odds 7-4)

Regally bred and made a taking winning debut over a mile at Dundalk in July before being touched off in Group Three company at Longchamp last time. Has more to offer and an obvious player.

Aidan says: “Adelaide River won at Dundalk on his first run and then we sent him to France for a Group Three. He ran a really good race to be second there and we hope he’ll go well again."

CONTINUOUS (best odds 6-1)

The Beresford Stakes was swiftly mentioned after the Heart’s Cry colt justified favouritism in taking style on his debut over 7f at The Curragh last month. Difficult to know what he achieved but he looked pretty professional and will stay a mile standing on his head.

Aidan says: “Continuous is a lovely colt by Heart’s Cry. He won on his debut at the Curragh very nicely over seven furlongs and we think he’ll enjoy stepping up to a mile.”


It’s Aidan’s son, Joseph, who could provide the main stumbling blocks. His Lakota Seven shaped as if he would be suited by the step up to a mile when a keeping-on fourth to Aesop’s Fables in the Futurity Stakes at The Curragh last time, while Roaring Gallagher, a Roaring Lion colt, got his career off to a bright start when winning a maiden at Bellewstown.

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