Aidan o’brien

There’s no doubt this horse is something special

Aidan O’Brien is a superb trainer. You name it: he has won it. The Derby nine times, the Irish Derby 15. The 2000 Guineas ten times, the Irish 2000 on a dozen occasions. This year he passed the worldwide total of 400 Group One or Grade One victories. He is an innately modest man who always credits every member of his team and suggests the big decisions are made by ‘the Lads’ of the Coolmore operation, John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derek Smith, et al. But that doesn’t mean Aidan cannot be extravagant in praising his winners, notably the progressive youngsters: the multi-billion dollar operation that is Coolmore is, after all,

Paddington emerged victorious but Eclipse was an enthralling duel

I should have listened to George Duffield. Sandown Park’s Eclipse Stakes, the first time the Classic generation of three-year-olds take on their elders, is one of my favourite races and the then 53-year-old rider’s triumph on Giant’s Causeway in 2000, beating Kalanisi by a head after Pat Eddery had driven him into the lead 200 yards from the finish, was the duel I will never forget. Duffield was Sir Mark Prescott’s stable jockey and soon after that race the Newmarket maestro took a call from Aidan O’Brien, Giant’s Causeway’s trainer. ‘Whatever you do Sir Mark,’ said the quiet Irish voice, ‘make sure you breed from him before you let him

The 4,000 spectators at Sandown Park weren’t short-changed

When only four horses were declared to contest this year’s Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, there were the usual mutters. Since owners and trainers are always complaining (with justice) about the low levels of prize money in British racing, why weren’t more of them sending their charges to compete for the £640,000 on offer? Brought up within walking distance of the Esher track (and yes, there were occasions when, having blown my stake money and then some, I did have to walk home), I have always been fascinated by the Eclipse, the year’s first contest between the three-year-olds and their elders. I will never forget Triple Crown winner Nashwan’s

The Derby was a game of musical saddles

We all know it takes courage to win races over jumps, along with athleticism, stamina and speed. But you need courage to win on the Flat too and Adayar showed that in abundance winning this year’s Derby. The aerial shots show vividly the moment, two furlongs from the finish, when early leader Gear Up moved fractionally away from the rail. Jockey Adam Kirby, who had been tracking him all the way, saw his opportunity and asked Adayar to forge through the narrow gap. His brave mount responded and suddenly they were clear, going on to win by four lengths in a success that was truly popular with the racing community.

In a jam: what Goodwood did with 900 punnets of strawberries

It was to have been, if not a glorious return, at least an encouraging one. On the Stewards’ Cup day which concluded Goodwood’s flagship meeting last Saturday, spectators — 5,000 of them — were to have been admitted to a British racecourse for the first time since lockdown. Course director Adam Waterworth and the Goodwood team had spent £100,000 preparing to keep the pilot scheme crowd not just happy but secure. Carefully socially distanced and out in the open air, the 5,000 would have been far safer than those crowding south coast beaches that same day or drinking at inner- city pubs the night before. But a last-minute change of