O'Brien brings up 4,000th career win on day two of Irish Champions Festival

Aidan O'Brien brought up his 4,000th career win at The Curragh as Henry Longfellow won the Goffs Vincent O'Brien National Stakes

Sunday, 10 September 2023
O'Brien brings up 4,000th career win on day two of Irish Champions Festival

Aidan O'Brien celebrates his 4,000th career triumph with wife Anne-Marie and daughter Ana

Aidan O’Brien is no stranger to reaching landmarks and the Master of Ballydoyle brought up a remarkable 4,000 career winners on day two of the Irish Champions Festival, writes Tom Masters.

In the year which has already seen him claim a record-extending ninth Epsom Derby and overtake Sir Michael Stoute for overall wins at Royal Ascot, O’Brien is running out of new ground to break. 

But true to his outrageous form over the last three decades, another staggering feat was reached at The Curragh as Henry Longfellow brought up career win number 4,000 in the Group 1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes. 

It had previously been an uncharacteristically frustrating day for O’Brien. Karl Burke took the second Group 1 of the day, The Moylgare Stud Stakes, not O’Brien’s overwhelming pre-race favourite Ylang Ylang, who finished dead last. 

In typical Aidan O’Brien style though, he did not have long to wait until he was back in the winner’s enclosure and in the very next race reached that incredible landmark – having been taken to within one by Warm Heart’s victory in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp earlier in the afternoon.

Henry Longfellow delivered on his own odds-on favouritism, delivering an emphatic five-length victory, showing his class in a small field of just four. 

To make the moment even more perfect, it was a nice full circle moment for O’Brien, as the landmark was reached in the very same race he landed his first Group 1 win some 27 years ago, when Desert King took the 1996 edition of the race. 

The Master of Ballydoyle said of the winning horse: “He quickens, he travels and he is very hard to deal with for other horses. 

“Sometimes in that soft ground, horses can have a very tough time, win, lose or draw, they can have a very tough time but he handled the ground very well. 

“Everyone has been very happy with him, he looks a fantastic horse for the future.” 

The first of four Group 1 races for the day came with a slight shock, as John Quinn’s evens favourite Highfield Princess was well beaten in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Flying Five Stakes. 

She finished fifth, falling behind 33-1 Ladies Church in fourth, 20-1 Equality in third, 22-1 Get Ahead in second and 16-1 winner Moss Tucker in a win for the bookies. 

Winning trainer Ken Condon was ecstatic at the victory, praising Billy Lee for his ride. 

He said: “It has been a great story with this horse, how he has progressed and kept improving, you go into this and you think, if we can win this it would be a super effort. 

“When the heavens opened about an hour and a half before, I was thinking, that is going to help us a little bit but it is a fantastic result and I thought he had a superb ride, he had a great partner and it is a superb day when it works out.” 

It proved to be a day for trainers named O’Brien, with the day starting with a win for Charles O’Brien, who claimed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF “Bold Lad” Sprint Handicap as Robert Whearty rode 16-1 shot Big Gossey to a one-length victory. 

It was then time for Aidan’s son, Joseph O’Brien, to get on the board in the Group 2 Moyglare “Jewels” Blandford Stakes, with Dylan Brown McMonagle striking again at the Irish Champions Festival, defeating O’Brien Sr’s favourite for the race, Jackie Oh. 

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