Aidan O'Brien Stable Tour

    Top trainer at the meeting for the past three seasons and eight times overall, the Master of Ballydoyle gives us the inside track on his galaxy of stars that look set to light up Royal Ascot in 2018.
  • Wednesday 13 June 2018
  • Stable Tours

Aidan O’Brien is simply a phenomenon in the world of racing. A record-breaking National Hunt trainer in the initial stages of his career, his abundant talents didn’t go unnoticed and he was appointed as the trainer in the historic Ballydoyle complex in 1996 at the age of just 26.

He quickly established himself as a dominant force in Irish racing and since then has broken every record worth breaking and won every race worth winning in Europe and beyond. Most recently, he broke the world record for the number of Group/Grade 1 winners trained in a calendar year by enjoying 28 such victories in 2017.  

With O’Brien having made a fine start to the new season and looking to have a strong team for Royal Ascot, he was good enough to sit down with Kevin Blake of attheraces.com to discuss their prospects at the Royal Meeting.

Older Horses

Cliffs Of Moher (IRE)

Form Profile:

Rated 115, he finished second in the Derby last year prior to running well without winning for the remainder of the season. He won the Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas in May and was second in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh three weeks later.

Trainer Says:

The plan is to run him in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. He came on well from his first run this year to his second and we think he has progressed again since the Tattersalls Gold Cup.

Video Form
27 May 2018:
7 May 2018:
13 Apr 2018:
4 Nov 2017:
9 Sep 2017:

Hydrangea (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Galileo - Beauty Is Truth (Pivotal)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Ascot, 20 Oct 2018 14:40
  • Result: 5/11, mid-division on outside, headway chasing leaders over 3f out, wide on home turn and pushed along, hung right inside final 2f, weakened over 1f out
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 118, she won the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown and the British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes at Ascot last season and made a promising return to action in the Lanwades Stud Stakes at the Curragh in May.

Trainer Says:

She could run in either the Prince of Wales’s Stakes or the Duke of Cambridge Stakes and we haven’t made a decision yet. I was very happy with how she ran at the Curragh on her return, as we knew she was going to need the run very badly. She come on really well since then.

Video Form
26 May 2018:
9 Sep 2017:
28 May 2017:
8 Apr 2017:
4 Nov 2016:

Lancaster Bomber (USA)

Form Profile:

Rated 118, he was finally rewarded for his consistency at the highest level when winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May.

Trainer Says:

I don’t think he’ll make it to Royal Ascot. He is going through a niggly problem with a foot at the moment, so it’s likely to he won’t be ready enough to run there.

Video Form
27 May 2018:
31 Mar 2018:
4 Nov 2017:
16 Sep 2017:
27 May 2017:

Merchant Navy (AUS)

  • 4-y-o; bay colt
  • Breeding: Fastnet Rock - Legally Bay (Snippets)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Ascot, 23 Jun 2018 16:20
  • Result: Won/12, chased leaders, 2nd over 1f out, challenge and carried left 1f out, led inside final 150 yards, held on gamely under pressure, all out
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 117, he was formerly trained in Australia where he won the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington in November. He made a highly-promising start for O’Brien when winning the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh in May.

Trainer Says:

We had him at a stage where we were just hoping he might be ready to run a good race on his first run for us at the Curragh, so we were very happy with what he did. He seems to have come out of the race very well and we’ve been delighted with him since. He has a lot of class and a big turn of foot that has already shown on the racecourse, so we are looking forward to seeing what he can do at Royal Ascot. It’s very tough for a Southern Hemisphere horse like him that is essentially a three-year-old to come up to the Northern Hemisphere and take on older horses off level weights. The same disadvantage is there when Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds travel to race in the Southern Hemisphere later in the year. It isn’t very fair on the horses and if the authorities want to encourage people to travel their top-class three-year-olds between the hemispheres, there might be some scope there for them to make provision for such cases within the weight-for-age scale.

Video Form
26 May 2018:

Order Of St George (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; bay horse
  • Breeding: Galileo - Another Storm (Gone West)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Ascot, 21 Jun 2018 16:20
  • Result: 4/9, bit reluctant going to post, tracked leaders, pushed along over 4f out, ridden and went 2nd over 2f out, every chance until winner quickened on over 1f out, hung right and weakened inside final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 123, he is a two-time winner of the Irish St Leger at the Curragh and won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in 2016. He has won both his starts this season.

Trainer Says:

Everything has went well with him since his last run at Navan. We are as happy with him going into the Gold Cup as we have been with him in any of the other years he has gone there. Donnacha rode him in a piece of work this morning and was very happy with him.

Video Form
25 May 2018:
22 Apr 2018:
10 Sep 2017:
19 Aug 2017:
26 May 2017:

Rhododendron (IRE)

  • 4-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Galileo - Halfway To Heaven (Pivotal)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Ascot, 20 Oct 2018 15:50
  • Result: 5/8, held up towards rear, headway over 2f out, ridden and unable to quicken over 1f out, no extra inside final furlong
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 118, she won the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket as a two-year-old, the Prix de l’Opera at Chantilly as a three-year-old and got off the mark as a four-year-old when winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last time.

Trainer Says:

We are looking at running her in the Queen Anne at the moment. We were very happy with what she did in the Lockinge. Given it was her first really competitive run over a mile since the 1000 Guineas last year, I was impressed how well she coped with what was a well-run race. Sometimes it can take a horse a while to fully adjust to running back over a mile after running over middle-distances, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if she could improve from Newbury.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
15 Sep 2018:
4 Nov 2017:
9 Sep 2017:
11 Sep 2016:

Spirit Of Valor (USA)

  • 4-y-o; bay colt
  • Breeding: War Front - Stone Hope (Grindstone)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Curragh, 12 Aug 2018 16:10
  • Result: 3/8, led or disputed lead, ridden 2f out, under pressure and headed early final furlong, no impression closing stages
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 112, he won a Group 2 contest over seven furlongs at the Curragh last season and returned to close to his best when second to Merchant Navy in the Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh last time.

Trainer Says:

The plan is the run him in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. We think six or seven furlongs on fast ground is what he wants and we were very happy with his run behind Merchant Navy at the Curragh last time.

Video Form
12 Aug 2018:
26 May 2018:
16 Sep 2017:
16 Jul 2017:
27 May 2017:

Three Year Olds

Clemmie (IRE)

Form Profile:

Rated 114, she was crowned the European Champion Two-Year-Old Filly last year following her three wins which included the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. She made an encouraging return to action in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Trainer Says:

The Coronation Stakes is her target. We have been very happy with her since her comeback run at the Curragh. We thought she’d get a bit tired on the day and progress well from that run and we think she has. We’ve always hoped she would get a mile and be in amongst the best fillies of her age around at that trip, so hopefully we’ll find out next week.

Video Form
15 Sep 2018:
27 May 2018:
2 Jul 2017:
27 May 2017:

Could It Be Love (USA)

  • 3-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: War Front - Playa Maya (Arch)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Naas, 21 Oct 2018 15:45
  • Result: 3/14, dwelt, soon mid-division, pushed along and headway when edged left in 4th under 2f out, ridden and kept on inside final furlong, edged right close home
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 112, she took a big step forward when finishing second in the Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh in May.

Trainer Says:

She is going to run in the Jersey Stakes and we think the shorter trip will suit her. She ran a very good race in the Irish 1,000 Guineas under a good positive ride from Donnacha and coming back in distance should be a help to her.

Video Form
21 Oct 2018:
30 Aug 2018:
25 Jul 2018:
8 Jul 2018:
27 May 2018:

Gustav Klimt (IRE)

Form Profile:

Rated 112, he won the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket as a juvenile and has run well in both the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Trainer Says:

We’re going to run him in the St James’s Palace Stakes. We’re not 100% sure if he stays a mile, even after running him twice over it. We don’t think he’ll have any problem dropping back to seven or even six furlongs, but we’ll give him one more chance over a mile against his own age group before we decide what to do with him in trip terms.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
26 May 2018:
14 Apr 2018:
2 Jul 2017:
28 May 2017:

Magical (IRE)

  • 3-y-o; bay filly
  • Breeding: Galileo - Halfway To Heaven (Pivotal)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Ascot, 20 Oct 2018 14:40
  • Result: Won/11, mid-division, headway tracking leaders over 2f out, led over 1f out, clear when edged right inside final furlong, stayed on well
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Rated 111, she won the Debutante Stakes and was beaten a short-head in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh last season. She made an encouraging return to action at Longchamp in April, but missed her intended engagement in the Oaks due a setback.

Trainer Says:

She won’t make it to Royal Ascot. She has a setback that ruled her out of the Oaks and while she’s back cantering now, the Irish Oaks is probably the earliest I could see her being back on the track and it could well be later than that.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
15 Sep 2018:
22 Jul 2018:
10 Sep 2017:
20 Aug 2017:

Nelson (IRE)

Form Profile:

Rated 111, he won a maiden at Leopardstown and a Group 3 at Leopardstown prior to finishing second in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket last season. He won the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on his seasonal reappearance prior to disappointing in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial.

Trainer Says:

We’re looking at stepping him up in trip to run in the Queen’s Vase. He disappointed us in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial last time and we aren’t sure whether it was the ground, the pace of the race or something else, but he definitely wasn’t at his best on the day. He’s a horse that we always thought would stay well and the longer trip could well be a help to him.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
15 Sep 2018:
13 May 2018:
14 Apr 2018:
9 Sep 2017:

September

Form Profile:

Rated 112, she won the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot prior to finishing in the frame in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh, the Fillies Mile at Newmarket and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar.

Trainer Says:

She won’t make it to Royal Ascot. We are hoping to have her back in time for the Irish Oaks, but we can’t be sure whether she will be ready in time for that just yet.

Video Form
22 Jul 2018:
3 Nov 2017:
10 Sep 2017:
20 Aug 2017:
8 Jun 2017:

Sioux Nation (USA)

Form Profile:

Rated 114, he won the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh as a two-year-old. He got off the mark as a three-year-old when winning the Lacken Stakes at Naas in May.

Trainer Says:

He will run in the Commonwealth Cup. We were happy with his comeback at Navan and delighted with him at Naas. He’s a big, powerful horse with great presence and strength. We think he’s a horse that will continue to progress as the year goes on.

Video Form
7 Oct 2018:
16 Sep 2018:
20 May 2018:
22 Apr 2018:
13 Aug 2017:

Southern France (IRE)

Form Profile:

Rated 95, he won a maiden at Leopardstown and a Listed race at Navan within the space of six days in May.

Trainer Says:

He will run in the Queen’s Vase. He’s a big baby of a horse that should improve a lot as the year goes on. He’ll run for the experience, but there would be a danger that his babyishness might catch him out on the day.

Video Form
15 Sep 2018:
25 Aug 2018:
19 May 2018:
13 May 2018:
23 Apr 2018:

U S Navy Flag (USA)

Form Profile:

Rated 116, he was crowned European Champion Two-Year-Old Colt last year after winning the Middle Park Stakes and the Dewhurst at Newmarket. He finished second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh last time.

Trainer Says:

He’s going to go for the St James’s Palace Stakes. He seems fine after his run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and we want to give him another shot at a mile against his own age group. We don’t think he’ll have a problem dropping in trip if we want him to and hopefully this run will tell us what direction to go with him.

Video Form
26 May 2018:
14 Apr 2018:
4 Nov 2017:
27 Aug 2017:
13 Aug 2017:

Two Year Olds

Cardini (USA)

Form Profile:

Shaped well in both his starts in maidens without hitting the frame.

Trainer Says:

He will go for the Chesham. He was very green on his debut and we decided to run him over six furlongs again on his second start, but it just didn’t work out for him. They went very slow and when Donnacha asked him to sprint he changed his legs and struggled to stay balanced. We think he’ll leave that run behind him and will be well suited by stepping up to seven furlongs.

Video Form
15 Sep 2018:
31 Aug 2018:
23 Aug 2018:
17 Jul 2018:
9 Jun 2018:

Fairyland

Form Profile:

Created a very good impression in winning a fillies’ maiden at Naas and when beating colts in the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh.

Trainer Says:

We haven’t decided between the Queen Mary or the Albany Stakes for her yet, but she’s been in great form here since her last run. She is a lovely, honest, straightforward filly that was very professional from an early stage here.

Video Form
26 May 2018:
7 May 2018:

Just Wonderful (USA)

Form Profile:

Made an impressive winning debut at the Curragh in May.

Trainer Says:

We are looking at running her in the Albany Stakes. She won nicely on debut at the Curragh, but the field split and it was a bit hard to assess afterwards. That said, Ryan liked her that day. I’d be worried that she will still be quite green at Royal Ascot with just one run under her belt and hopefully it won’t be too big of a jump too soon for her.

Video Form
16 Sep 2018:
1 Sep 2018:
21 Jul 2018:
26 May 2018:

Sergei Prokofiev (CAN)

  • 2-y-o; bay colt
  • Breeding: Scat Daddy - Orchard Beach (Tapit)
  • Trained by: A P O'Brien
  • Last Race: Newmarket, 12 Oct 2018 13:50
  • Result: Won/14, dwelt in rear, switched to outer over 1f out, headway approaching final furlong, ridden to lead inside final furlong, ran on, comfortable
  • View full form
Form Profile:

Narrowly beaten on debut at Dundalk, but has won a winner’s race at Navan and a Listed race at Naas in great style since.

Trainer Says:

He has a choice of running in the Coventry or the Norfolk and we haven’t made that decision yet. He is a horse with an awful lot of natural ability, but he’s been babyish so far and still has more to learn. He should continue to improve as he gains experience and is obviously a horse to be excited about.

Video Form
12 Aug 2018:
20 May 2018:
23 Apr 2018:
11 Apr 2018:

So Perfect (USA)

Form Profile:

Did well to overcome greenness when making a winning debut in a fillies maiden at Navan in April, but was undone by inexperience when beaten in a Listed race at Naas in May.

Trainer Says:

She could run in either the Queen Mary or the Albany and at the moment the Queen Mary is perhaps more likely, but a decision hasn’t been made yet. We were delighted with her run at Naas where she was caught out by greenness in a race that was a bit messy. We’ve been very happy with her since then and she should improve well from that experience.

Video Form
12 Aug 2018:
1 Jul 2018:
20 May 2018:
22 Apr 2018:

The Irish Rover (IRE)

Form Profile:

Made it third-time lucky when running out the impressive winner of a valuable conditions race at Newbury in May.

Trainer Says:

We haven’t made a decision on his target yet and he has the option of the Coventry, the Norfolk or the Windsor Castle. We were disappointed when he blew the start at Ascot on his penultimate start, but he didn’t show any signs of repeating it at Newbury and he looked very straightforward there. He has always been very straightforward at home and shown us a lot of natural ability.

Video Form
13 Sep 2018:
12 Aug 2018:
11 Apr 2018:
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