Family affair for O’Brien as Saxon Warrior battles to Guineas success

Aidan O'Brien, preparing in the United States for the Kentucky Derby, can toast his son Donnacha after he won the English 2000 Guineas on Saxon Warrior
AFP

London (AFP) – Irish training great Aidan O’Brien’s bid for a historic treble this weekend began in sparkling fashion as his son Donnacha rode Saxon Warrior to win the first classic of the season, the English 2000 Guineas, on Saturday.

Saxon Warrior stormed through to win with ease to give Aidan O’Brien — who is in the United States where he hopes to win the Kentucky Derby for the first time for a European stable later on Saturday — his ninth win in the race.

The winner, who is by Japanese stallion Deep Impact, was never challenged once he hit the front.

But there was a remarkable run from 50/1 outsider Tip To Win who came home second under David Probert with favourite Mazar third for Dubai’s Godolphin Operation.

Alarm bells had rung for O’Brien’s other fancied runner Gustav Klimt after he drifted from favourite out to third favourite by the off, and he failed to fire, finishing mid-division of the 14 runners.    

Winning rider Donnacha O’Brien emulated his older brother Joseph in winning the race for his father.

The victory was extra special as a battle with his weight means he will not have much longer in the saddle.

“This is very special,” said Donnacha O’Brien.

“A huge thanks to the owners especially dad for putting me on in the first place.

“This is a proper horse,” added the 19-year-old.

Joseph, who has turned to training himself and won last year’s Melbourne Cup edging his father into second, ran from the stands to welcome home his brother.

“Gosh he gave him a lovely ride,” gasped Joseph once he got his breath back.

“This is a very special day.”

Saxon Warrior sets 48-year-old O’Brien up for a potential fourth English Guineas double with his filly Happily the favourite for Sunday’s 1000 Guineas.

For Teal and Tip To Win’s owner Anne Cowley it was a day to remember.

“I’d forgotten my binoculars so I couldn’t really see what was happening, said the jovial Teal.

“I can’t really believe it and am still pinching myself.”

Cowley, having given Teal a massive hug, gathered herself and said her horse’s run had been a humbling experience.

“He is little and weak in physique but he has a big heart,” she said.

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