Roly Poly digs deep to move Aidan O'Brien closer to Group One world record

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Sat 7 Oct 2017

Watch a full replay of how Roly Poly edged Aidan O'Brien closer to a record tally of Group One winers at Newmarket on Saturday

By Andy Stephens at Newmarket

Jimmy Fortune will turn to a new vocation in the property business after bringing down the curtain on his career at Newmarket on Saturday.

The 45-year-old could do worse than try to tap up Aidan O’Brien as a potential early client because the master of Ballydoyle is going to need a separate property for all the trophies and trinkets he is acquiring.

This year might even demand its own special room as it now seems certain it will be the one when the Ballydoyle trainer pushes the boundaries and passes the world record 25 Group One victories that Bobby Frankel accumulated in 2003. Paddy Power have already waved the white flag and paid out on him achieving the feat.

Roly Poly’s game defeat of a deep field that included three classy French raiders in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes was, remarkably, his fifth Group One triumph in the space of a week and his 23rd this year - equalling the best haul he has ever achieved during his decorated career.

O’Brien managed the same tally on the Flat in 2001, 2008 and last year but he is far from finished this time, with an enviable squad ready to tour the world before the year is out.

Roly Poly has been one of his surprise packages; an unsung heroine who has been a great advertisement for his O’Brien’s skill and attacking nature.

The War Front filly would not win any equine beauty parade and to many trained eyes last summer looked “just a two-year-old” but great things can come in small packages and she has kept coming back for more this term - landing three Group One prizes and being second in two more behind stablemate Winter.

Not bad for a little ‘un.

She will sign off for the year in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare, $US 2million race at Del Mar over nine furlongs, a contest in which she will be joined by Rhododendron.

“She’s not a very big but she has progressed and progressed," O’Brien said. "Every time she wins she always looks like she has another little bit to give. She’s amazing, really.

Sun Chariot Day - Newmarket Races Roly Poly's win at Newmarket on Saturday was her eighth run of the campaign and 16th career start (PA)

“Ryan decides [tactics] and is always happy to go forwards. It was an incredible ride today - the position he got and the way she found for him.

“The lads [Coolmore] will decide what they want to do, but her and Rhododendron could be trained for the Filly & Mare race if that's what they want to do."

The all-conquering trainer could send as many as a dozen challengers to the Breeders’ Cup but, before that, will try and plunder more of the big prizes in Britain.

2016 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Paddy Power have paid out on Aidan O'Brien eclipsing Bobby Frankel's world record (PA)

He indicated Happily, Magical and September were all “possibles” for the bet365 Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on Friday, while Seahenge, US Navy Flag and Threeandfourpence are in the mix to tackle the Darley Dewhurst Stakes 24 hours later.

The week after that comes QIPCO British Champions Day when Winter (Champion Stakes) Churchill (Queen Elizabeth II Stakes), Caravaggio (Sprint), Order Of St George (Long Distance Cup) will spearhead his team and Hydrangea, Cliffs Of Moher and Highland Reel, possibly, will provide back-up.

O’Brien never seems that comfortable talking about overhauling Frankel but at least he is now giving it some credence.

"It would be incredible for everybody, but the horse always comes first," he said. "That's the important thing - the horse always comes first.

"After every race, the lads sit down and have a chat among themselves and see what race they want to pick, they have a big discussion with the people around them, make a target and we go with that.

"It's race to race, horse to horse, the horse always comes first and we're doing our best in every race, it's all we can do."


2001: O’Brien trained 23 Grade/Group One winners worldwide. He also won the Irish Champion Hurdle with Istabraq, giving him a ‘mixed’ total of 24 that year.

2008: A tally of 23 winners at the top level on the Flat including all five Irish Classics and the Gold Cup with Yeats.

2011: Another incredible year with 20 Group/Grade One victories highlighted by the end of season success for St Nicholas Abbey in the Grade One Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs.

2016: The highlight of his 22 winners was Found leading home a one-two-three in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly, the first time any trainer had achieved that feat. O’Brien was also credited with Ivanovich Gorbatov’s Triumph Hurdle win which gave him a total top level tally of 23.

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