Andy Stephens was at Newmarket's July Course on Friday and reports on Aidan O'Brien's march towards Bobby Frankel's record haul of Group One winners after Roly Poly added to his top-level successes at Headquarters
Michael Tabor, pictured with jockey Ryan Moore, revealed his hopes for Aidan O'Brien this season at Newmarket on Friday. (Racingfotos)
Aidan O’Brien was a notable absentee at Newmarket on Friday but his horses spoke volumes for him as he took another step towards pushing the boundaries to new extremes and achieving a record haul of Group One winners this year.
The all-the-way victory of the diminutive but doughty Roly Poly under Ryan Moore in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes was his eleventh at the highest level this campaign, which is remarkable even by his exalted standards.
About an hour earlier, Clemmie, a well-named sister of dual 2,000 Guineas winner Churchill (Clementine was the name of the Prime Minister’s wife), had won the Group Two Duchess of Cambridge Stakes - looking every inch a Classic contender for next year.
O’Brien has always denied any pursuit of the 25 Grade One victories that Bobby Frankel achieved in 2003 but Michael Tabor, one of the Coolmore “lads” to whom he often refer, spoke openly on the subject when it was raised after Roly Poly had galloped her six rivals into submission after being sent off the well-backed 11-8 favourite.
Tabor said: “He [Frankel] was a great trainer and a lovely man. Obviously it would be nice if Aidan achieves that [the record], which I’d have thought he would in the fullness of time. Let’s hope they [the horses] all stay healthy.
“Hopefully we will go to the Breeders’ Cup at the end of the year with good few more [Group One winners] and hopefully we will win some there. [You are] always trying to get to the top of the mountain but you never reach it.
“It’s been a good day at the office. Roly Poly's had some near misses but she’s a tough, hardy filly. She’s small but she battles well and this ground really suits her.”
O’Brien is rarely relaxed, even in victory, but Tabor was in playful mode and after missing a call on his mobile it was suggested that it had been his wife asking him what he wanted for tea. He put the phone to his ear and said: “Egg and chips” before returning it to his pocket with a smile.
Egg and chips? This year has been more bluefin tuna and almas caviar, washed down with a glass or two of the bubbly stuff for the Coolmore collective.
The exploits of such as Churchill, Winter, Highland Reel, Wings Of Eagles, Capri and Caravaggio have provided consolation for the injuries that have forced Minding and Wings Of Eagles into retirement, and the injury that claimed the life of Somehow.
Caravaggio just might be the most explosive of the lot and the revered tones in which O’Brien talks about him suggests we might be in for something out of the ordinary from the unbeaten colt in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday.
“What Aidan says [about this horse], he says with meaning,” Tabor revealed. “He doesn’t say it for the sake of it - he thinks this is something special.
“It’s a different type of test, a different type of track, so we will see. The July Cup holds great memories thanks to the likes of Stravinsky and Mozart. In that period when we had two great sprinters and I would say Caravaggio is every bit as good.”
Moore had to dash off to France for another Group One assignment aboard Orderofthegarter in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (one of three O’Brien runners in the race) but before he went he offered a glowing compliment to Clemmie, who was cut to a general 8-1 for the 1,000 Guineas after her success in a market headed by September, her unbeaten stablemate who won the Chesham at Royal Ascot.
“I'd say she is the best (two-year-old) filly we've seen out this year,” Moore said.
Clemmie, who is a sister to four-time Group One winner Churchill, wins the Duchess Of Cambridge Stakes under Ryan Moore. pic.twitter.com/ERLz6NQJOR— Newmarket Racecourse (@NewmarketRace) July 14, 2017
“She's won a six-furlong Group Two in July, she's got the pedigree to do it and she's got the trainer. She's got every chance.”
Tabor added: “You would have to be impressed, she is obviously improving all the time. She has won as if she wanted seven furlongs so hopefully she will be a Guineas horse for next year.”
Asked about keeping Clemmie and September apart, he added: “These are high class problems to have.”
Winter, already a three-time Group One winner this term, looks a ready-made replacement for Minding, while Tabor also had news of Churchill, the dual 2,000 Guineas winner who fluffed his lines when an odds-on fourth in the St James’s Palace Stakes last month.
He is likely to try and redeem himself in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood this month.
“If you had asked me before the race [at Royal Ascot] I’d have said he was an absolute certainty,” Tabor said. “It shows you in racing what can and does happen. Hopefully he can come back and restore what we think of him, but only time will tell.”
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